Your life’s in danger: Deaths from heart disease run rampant in the United States. You need to know your risk for cardiovascular complications and how to keep this affliction from claiming you as a victim.
It’s disturbing that we often know more about the risks and costs of our automobiles than we do about our bodies.
When you buy car insurance, the insurance company assigns you to a risk group based on your driving history and likelihood of causing an accident. This is how it determines the price of your premiums, a number you can analyze. But when it comes to health, most of us don’t understand our risk. Death from cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a serious threat; it is the No. 1 cause of death in America.
Do you know your own risk factors for death from heart disease? Do you know the blood tests available that can uncover the hidden risks you may have already?
Know Your Risks For CVD
There’s a heart attack in America every 29 seconds and a death each minute. That’s a big reason why everyone should understand the causes of this significant problem.
Atherosclerosis is what we call the deposits of calcified fatty materials that make up lesions inside heart artery walls. The process develops over time and is quite well understood in the medical scientific community.
Did you know that virtually every adult male age 20 and older in America has atherosclerosis already developing to some degree, as shown in autopsy studies? When it gets to the point that these lesions cut off significant blood flow to the heart muscle, it causes the symptoms called angina or even a heart attack. An estimated 64 percent of men with atherosclerosis experience a heart attack as their first symptom or sign of this disease (not just simply some chest pain). And a heart attack is not a trivial thing: About 50 percent of men die from their first heart attack. Not only is it the leading cause of death in America, it is at least 80 percent preventable without medications. Therefore, it is imperative that you know the underlying contributing causes of atherosclerosis and coronary artery vasospasm (the ingredients for a heart attack).
Some risk factors are beyond your control, such as family history of coronary artery disease, aging (especially being older than 65) and menopause (if you’re female).
Most other risk factors are controllable:
- Tobacco smoking: Doubles your risk of heart attack.
- High blood pressure.
- Diabetes mellitus.
- Metabolic syndrome: Leads to high insulin  in your blood (triggers lipid oxidation and makes cholesterol “sticky,” allowing fibrin clots to form in heart and brain blood vessels ); abdominal obesity (also called VAT or visceral adipose tissue); glucose intolerance; hypertension.
- Sedentary lifestyle: Lack of physical exercise.
- Eating refined sugar: Known to elevate systolic blood pressure, according to the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 1998;  contributes to diabetes and metabolic syndrome, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, October 2004; causes atherosclerosis, according to Circulation Research, March 1999; correlates strongly with peripheral vascular disease, according to Postgraduate Medicine, September 1969. 
- Eating hydrogenated oils and trans-fats: Promotes atherosclerosis even more strongly than saturated animal fats.  Several studies have clearly shown that trans-fats are closely associated with heart attacks. 
- Emotional stress, anger and depression. 
- Lack of sexual intimacy and low testosterone levels in men.
- Radiation exposure: Oxidizes LDL and makes it electrically sticky on heart blood vessel walls. The children of the Chernobyl nuclear accident had extremely high levels of oxidized LDL. 
- Oxidative stress: Derives from heavy metal exposure (i.e., mercury), radiation and cigarette smoke.
- Electromagnetic frequencies (EMFs): From cell phones, televisions, microwave ovens, laptop computers, hair dryers, etc.
- Pesticides and herbicides. 
- Hormones and antibiotics: From animal livestock and xenoestrogens (hormone mimickers) found in plastics, spermicides, detergents and personal-care products.
- Prescription medications: Drugs intended to treat heart disease, high cholesterol or high blood pressure can weaken the heart. 
- Thickened blood: Damages the endothelium, triggering more inflammatory chemicals and clotting factors.
- Chronic infections: Respiratory, urinary tract or dental infections quadrupled the rate of atherosclerosis in a 2001 Circulation study.  Organisms involved included Chlamydia pneumoniae, Helicobacter pylori, cytomegalovirus (CMV) and herpes simplex virus (HSV).
Do you see something on this list you know you can stop, change or reverse in your own life? If you or a loved one is at high risk for (or has) cardiovascular disease, don’t start taking prescription medications. Instead, do all you can to address these contributing causes first.
Additionally, you deserve to know about the cutting-edge blood tests that can help you discover cardiovascular risk. These blood tests may be done by a cardiologist or your primary care physician. I’ll address these in my next report.
To your real health and feeling good for life,
Michael Cutler, M.D.
Easy Health Options
 American Heart Association website at http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4756
 Preuss, H. G. “Sugar-Induced Blood Pressure Elevations Over the Lifespan of Three Substrains of Wistar Rats.” J Am Coll of Nutrition, 1998;17(1) 36-37.
 Yoo, Sunmi et al. “Comparison of Dietary Intakes Associated with Metabolic Syndrome Risk Factors in Young Adults: the Bogalusa Heart Study” Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Oct;80(4):841-848.
 Schmidt A.M. et al. “Activation of receptor for advanced glycation end products: a mechanism for chronic vascular dysfunction in diabetic vasculopathy and atherosclerosis.” Circ Res.1999 Mar 19;84(5):489-97.
 Postgraduate Medicine. Sept 1969:45:602-07.
 Valenzuela A, Morgado A. Trans fatty acid isomers in human health and in the food industry. Biol. Res. 32(4):273-87.
 Willett WC, Sampfer MJ, Manson JE, et al. Intake of trans fatty acids and the risk of coronary artery disease among women. Lancet 1993. 341: 581-85; Ascherio A, Hennekens CH, Buring JE, et al.Trans-fatty acids intake and risk of myocardial infarction. Circulation 1994. 89 (1):94-101; Lichtenstein AH, Trans-fatty acids and cardiovascular disease risk. Curr. Opin Lipidol. 2000. 11(1):37-42.
 Mittleman MA, Maclure M, et al. Educational attainment, anger, and the risk of triggering myocardial infarction onset. Archives of Internal Medicine 1997, 157:769-775. Also, Jiang W, Babyak M, Krantz DS, et al. Mental stress-induced myocardial ischemia and cardiac events. JAMA 1996, 275:1651-1656.
 Per Stephen Sinatra, M.D. the preventive Cardiologist presentation at the The Fourth World Conference on Nutritional Medicine, May 2004, Nikko Hotel, San Francisco, CA.
 Sarter B. Coenzyme Q10 and Cardiovascular Disease: A Review. J Cardiov Nursing 16(4):9-20, July 2002.
 Kiechl S, Egger G, Mayr M, et al. Chronic infections and the risk of carotid atherosclerosis: prospective results from a large population study. Circulation. 2001 Feb 27;103(8):1064-70.
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