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Health and Wellness – Happy Heart Health Month
Wellness Consultant
Wednesday, February 1, 2012 • Posted February 2, 2012 9:53 AM

Your heart tells you when you are in love, when you are afraid, when you excited, and when you hurt; but it doesn’t tell you when you have heart disease. According to the American Heart Association every 29 seconds an American suffers a coronary event and nearly every minute someone dies from one. Heart disease is the number one killer in the U.S. today. There are 147 million doctor visits each year for hypertension and heart disease and 100 million Americans have elevated cholesterol. This may be the scariest statistic of all— the first sign of heart disease 40% of the time is instant death!

The human heart basically is a muscle that pumps blood. It has its own blood vessels, the coronary arteries that nourish it and keep it alive. In most cases when a heart attack occurs, fatty deposits (composed mostly of oxidized cholesterol that has been attacked by free radicals and homocysteine become lipid peroxides or rancid fats) have lined the coronary arteries. As these deposits build up they progressively narrow the arteries and decrease or stop the flow of blood to the heart.

With our understanding of what heart disease is and how it occurs, let’s check the lifestyle factors that contribute to its occurrence. These include poor diet, smoking, drugs and stimulants, lack of exercise, stress, poor quality of life, isolation and negative thinking. You might be at risk for heart disease if: you have diabetes, you have high cholesterol, you are a smoker, you have high blood pressure (greater than 140/90), you have a family history of heart disease, you are overweight or you are inactive and don’t exercise.

If there is a history of heart disease or premature heart disease in your family, ask your primary care giver if, and how often, you should have the following screenings: blood pressure check, cholesterol test, ECG, and/or exercise stress test.

Unfortunately people usually don’t identify the need to make lifestyle changes until after they have an event such as a heart attack. Even a moderate amount of change in lifestyle early on may make all the difference. The way to prevent heart disease, or reverse its damage, is to change the lifestyle habits that cause it in the first place. There are no negative side effects, and you will reduce your risk of other diseases as well. Additionally, the cost is lower. A bypass costs over $30,000, angioplasty costs over $7,500, and a year of drug treatment can cost several thousand dollars. Lifestyle changes, on the other hand, are relatively inexpensive. Much of the expense is actually re-directed spending – buying healthier products and making healthier choices with the money you are already spending.

After quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet can have the biggest impact in the fight against heart disease. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains for many years has been shown to decrease the risk of cancer; these same foods are as important for decreasing and treating heart disease. Eating smarter isn’t hard even for busy consumers. Frozen foods and other convenience products can provide good nutrition when properly selected. It’s never too early or too late to start leading a healthier lifestyle. Thirty minutes of exercise most days and better nutrition can improve your heart and your life.

As Dr. William Sears, Sr. tells his patients of all ages, “To be heart healthy... don‘t eat the ‘sticky stuff’. It stops up the pipes.” Let’s keep the blood flowing with good habits to enjoy everything our hearts desire. Let’s get heart smart!

Disclaimer: Information in these articles is obtained from medical and clinical journals, scientific publications, and published trade books. These articles have been written and published strictly for information purposes. Consult your health care provider for your specific medical needs. For any questions, comments or suggestions contact Maryella at or

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