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Heart Health

February 11, 2014

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Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America for men and women. According to  George Washington University’s Heart and Vascular Institute, heart disease kills more people per year than all cancers combined. There are many types of heart diseases such as congenital heart defects, cardiomyopathy, arrhythmia, etc. but the most common defect and one that I will be talking about is coronary artery disease. 

Coronary artery disease occurs when a substance called plaque builds up in the arteries that supply blood to the heart. Plaque is made up of cholesterol deposits that harden over time and when this happens your arteries start to narrow. This process happens faster when we have a diet high in processed, fatty, and cholesterol filled foods The more narrow your arteries get the harder it is for blood to get through them which can lead to chest pains (angina) and heart attacks. 

I hate to paint such a grizzly picture of heart disease but the good thing is that it is mostly preventable. Heart disease is classed as a lifestyle disease which means that for the most, part what we do determines if we will have it or not. The main risk factors are high blood pressure, high LDL numbers and cigarette smoking. According to the CDC, right at about half the country has at lease one of these risk factors. Other lifestyle choices such as poor diet, lack of exercise, excessive alcohol intake, and being overweight can increase your chances of developing heart disease. You can prevent heart disease by eating a diet high in fruits, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains and low in fat and cholesterol. When you team a good diet with 3-5 days of exercise per week the risk of getting heart disease is drastically reduced. 

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