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Heart Disease is rising, despite all efforts to decrease it.

What is ‘heart disease’?

Your heart is a muscle. It is fed oxygen and nutrients by blood vessels. Some are small, and others are microscopic.

Heart disease refers to the formation of plaques in the blood vessels of the heart. These vessels supply oxygen and nutrients to the heart muscle fibers. These plaques contain cholesterol and cells, calcium, and fibrin. As the plaque grows in size, it narrows the blood vessel diameter, and the flow of blood with oxygen and nutrients decreases, starving the heart muscle.

The plaque ruptures and blocks the flow of blood leading to a classic heart attack.

Heart disease starts in your late teens and early 20s as fatty streaks inside the blood vessels of your heart. It has always been taught that high cholesterol is behind this. That your diet and lifestyle is the main way to combat this from happening. For well over 30 years, drugs in the ‘statin’ class have been prescribed in increasing amounts. However, we are still seeing an alarming increase in heart disease, and heart attacks and this is occurring at younger ages.

What can you do?

  1. Understand what a Healthy Diet truly is:

Avoid processed food.

  • Simply eating a low-fat diet and counting calories is completely unhelpful. Many studies show that ultra-processed foods are damaging to health. Even if they are labeled “cholesterol-free” or “low-fat”.

  • Choose foods that are in their natural form. Eat rice instead of rice pasta. Eat vegetables instead of drinking veggie juice or vegetable chips.

  • Focus on eating more vegetables and meat in your meals.

  • Take home-cooked food for lunch instead of eating out.

  • Do not fall for the advertisements that tell you boxed cereals and margarine are heart-healthy. They fall under the category of ‘processed foods’.

  • Avoid ‘bad fats’ which include vegetable oils, fried foods, and fast food.

  1. Manage your body fat and fitness:

If you are overweight, start taking small and steady steps towards losing weight and keeping it off.

It is the small and steady steps you take that lead to lasting results.

Walking 20 minutes a day, even if divided into 2 sets of 10 minutes.

2-5 minutes of exercises using your body weight, eg. Jumping Jacks, Burpees or squats.

Avoid prolonged sitting. Sitting disease was covered in Time Magazine as being worse than smoking.

It releases inflammatory markers and increases your risk of heart disease exponentially.

Set your alarm to remind you to move every hour.

  1. Know the most important risk factors that you can control:

  • Blood pressure: check your blood pressure regularly, and avoid high blood pressure, Take medications early. Lowering your body fat and exercising help lower your blood pressure.

  • See your doctor regularly to check your blood sugar levels. Pre-diabetes can easily be reversed with weight loss, eating a low-carb diet, avoiding processed foods and packaged foods.

  • Check your cholesterol. See your doctor regularly to check your vital signs and blood tests.

  • Do not smoke. Smoking is a known risk factor that increases blood clotting and blood thickness.

  1. Take Vitamin D and Omega 3 supplements.

Low levels of Vitamin D have been shown to increase the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, heart failure, and diabetes.

It is possible to measure these levels and supplement them to optimal levels based on your requirements.

Dr. Natasha Iyer, MD

*This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat medical conditions and should not be used for medical advice. Seek proper medical consultation with a medical professional.

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