Heart Disease - Causes and Top 7
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My Heart Attack-Personal Stories from Survivors

Last updated August 4, 2017, originally published November 17, 2015

By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

[Health and fitness articles are reviewed by Doctors, Registered Nurses
and other Certified fitness and health professionals]

Sometimes it's easy to miss the forest because we're looking at
the trees. We read about so many diseases and their risk levels
for us, that we forget one important, overwhelming truth. Heart
disease is the leading cause of death in the United States: fact.

About 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States
every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, and 82,000 deaths from heart disease occur in the
UK annually - an average of 224 people each day (Heart
Research Institute UK).

In Canada, someone dies from heart disease or stroke every
seven minutes (Statistics Canada, 2011.) Faced with such
alarming statistics, we need to find out all we can about heart
disease and how to prevent this common killer because,
fortunately,  there are things we can do to lower heart attack
risk. What really works to help prevent heart disease? What can
you do
today to ensure you are not a statistic?

What Exactly Is Heart Disease?

Heart disease refers to a number of different conditions that
affect the heart and the arteries leading to your heart. The most
common form of heart disease is coronary artery disease, which
prevents blood from flowing freely to the heart and can result in
a heart attack.

Coronary artery disease occurs when too much plaque builds up
in the arteries and sticks to the walls. These arteries supply
blood to the heart and when clogged, the blood cannot
effectively reach the heart, depriving it of oxygen.

If you suffer from chest pain or
angina, this could be a sign that
not enough blood is reaching your heart. Over time, your heart
muscle weakens, leading to
heart failure. A heart attack is
another common outcome of heart disease.

A less well-known sign of heart disease is a diagonal crease in
your earlobe. Called "Frank's sign", people with this crease
suffer high rates of stroke and heart disease. Read
more about
Franck's sign.]

Causes of Heart Disease

Unfortunately, about half of all Americans have at least one of
the top three risk factors for heart disease, according to the
National Center for Health Statistics –
high blood pressure, high
cholesterol, and smoking. These are the main causes of heart
disease and heart attack in the US today.

Other medical and lifestyle conditions can also put you at greater
risk of heart disease. These include
diabetes, obesity, poor diet,
lack of physical exercise, and alcohol abuse.

Diets high in saturated fats have been linked to heart disease,
and too much salt can raise blood pressure – a big heart disease
risk factor. Saturated fats are animal fats which are solid at room
temperature such as lard, butter and the marbled fat you see
inside meats and chicken.

Not getting enough exercise and being overweight increases
your likelihood of developing high cholesterol, diabetes, and
high blood pressure.

Drinking too much alcohol can also raise your blood pressure

Sometimes you can share genes with your family which
predispose you to heart disease. Genetic factors play a part in
your risk of high blood pressure and other related conditions.
And if you combine these hereditary factors with an unhealthy
lifestyle, you have a much-enhanced risk of suffering from heart

The process of getting heart disease may be complex but one
fact is clear - heart disease was the number one killer of both
men and women in 2013, according to the National Vital
Statistics Reports.

Heart disease is a serious problem and is a risk for practically
anyone. But you can do something about many of the causes of
heart disease. We looked at recent scientific research to find out
what you can do to prevent heart disease.

Top 7 Prevention Tips

1. Get More Sleep to Prevent Heart Disease

Most of us who live in Western societies sleep only 6.8 hours per
night, about 1.5 hours less than people slept just a century ago,
according to a 2010 study from Jichi Medical University in
Tochigi, Japan.

Men who sleep less than 6 hours per night have a 70% greater
risk of dying from heart disease as men who sleep 8 hours per
night, according to 1983 study of adults in Alameda County,
California (The "Alameda County Study"). In this study scientists
from the University of California in San Diego and Yale University
measured sleep quality and death statistics over a 9 year period
for 6,928 people.  

Other studies have reached the same conclusion. Sleeping more
than 7.5 hours a night can help lower your risk of future heart
disease, according to a 2008 study, again from Jichi Medical
University, Tochigi, Japan. The researchers found that people
who slept for less time had a higher risk. They also found a
higher risk among people who had little sleep combined with
overnight increases  in blood pressure. The study looked at
1,255 people with high blood pressure for over 50 months.

Manage Diabetes to Prevent Heart Disease Death

The risk of death from heart disease for adults with diabetes is
two to four times greater than for people without diabetes,
according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

People with diabetes also tend to be overweight or obese, which
also raises the risk of heart disease.

Preventing diabetes in the first place should be of primary
concern, especially since studies show that physicians
underestimate the percentage of diabetes patients who die from
heart disease (2011, The Cardiovascular Disease and Type 2
Diabetes Patients survey).

Avoid Processed Meat, Avoid Heart Disease

Step away from that hot dog and sausage, if you want to lower
your risk for heart disease.

Cut processed meat from your diet and cut your risk of heart
disease, according to a 2013 study from the University of Zurich.
Processed meats like hot dogs, deli meats, sausage and bacon
could be responsible for as many as one in 30 early deaths from
heart disease, according to the researchers.  

The study looked at data from over half a million people in 10
countries across Europe, and the link between processed meat
and heart disease was found even when taking into account
other lifestyle factors.

Scientists recommend limiting your daily processed meat intake
to less than the size of a matchbook. That's just about enough
to fit on a single cracker.

In general, high-fat diets and fast food are linked to a greater
risk of obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol,
particularly when the diets lack fruit, fiber, and vegetables.

Is Salt Reduction Linked to A Drop in Heart Disease Risk?

Between 2003 and 2011, the average salt intake for people in
England fell by 15 percent. At the same time, deaths from heart
disease fell by 40 percent.

In a 2014 study by the Queen Mary University of London,
researchers stated that “the reduction in salt intake is likely to be
an important contributor to the falls in blood pressure in
England from 2003 to 2011. As a result, the decrease in salt
intake would have played an important role in the reduction in
stroke and ischemic heart disease mortality during this period.”

The World Health Organization recommends consumption of less
than 2g of sodium a day and that intake above this level
accounts for around 1 in 10 heart disease deaths per year.  The
American Heart Association recommends an even lower level, if
1500 mg per day.

Cocoa Flavanols May Help Reduce Heart Disease Risk

A 2010 study from the University of California San Francisco
suggests that cocoa flavanols could help improve blood vessel
repair and maintain cells more effectively in the heart, cutting the
risk of death from heart disease.

Cocoa flavanols have also been shown to lower blood pressure
and help the arteries to relax. It should be noted, however, that
scientists from Mars, Incorporated (the chocolate company)
were also working with the academics on this research.

Eat Fresh Fruit Every Day to Cut Your Heart Disease Risk

Cut your risk of heart disease by 40 percent, simply by eating
fresh fruit every day.

That’s the advice given in a 2014 study from the University of
Oxford in the UK. People who eat fruit every day have a 25 to 40
percent lower risk of heart disease compared to people who
never eat fruit.

The study looked at an analysis of 451,681 people in China and
found the more fruit consumed each day, the lower the risk of
heart disease. [Among fruit,
red grapes, rich in resveratrol, can
cut risk of death from heart disease by 200% compared to those
who eat a diet rich in saturated fat who do not eat red grapes or
drink red wine .]

Cut Heart Disease Risk: Start with an Active Childhood

Healthy children raise their risk of heart disease when they are
physically inactive, according to a 2011 study from Skane
University Hospital in Malmo, Sweden. The children who were
the least active showed a higher risk score for heart disease,
which took into account their blood pressure and body fat.
Physical activity is vital at any age, and it can start early by
incorporating at least 60 minutes activity into young children’s

[8. Take an Afternoon Nap to Lower Heart Disease Risk

Taking an afternoon nap can lower your risk for heart disease by
up to 37%
, studies have found.]

Foods That Clog Your Arteries

Foods That Lower Cholesterol

Foods That Reduce Blood Pressure

Orange Juice Helps Reverse Artery Damage in Chronic Smokers

How Much Is Too Much Salt

Triglyceride Levels Too High? -Top 7 Natural Remedies

Urine Color-What It Means

Bowel Color-What It Means

Fish Oil Health Benefits / Salmon Health Benefits

Ideal Breakfast for Diabetics

How to Lose Weight After Menopause/Best Breakfast to Fight
Arthritis/ Health Dangers of Milk

Foods That Shrink Your Waist

How Much Is Too Much Salt? /Sugar-The Disease Connection /
Are Diet Sodas Bad
for Your Health? / Ideal Breakfast for
Diabetics / Ideal Breakfast for Arthritis /Healing Foods Links /  
Foods That Shrink Your Waist /

Snoring Linked to

How to Stop Bad Breath




















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People who eat fresh fruit every
day have a 40% lower risk for
heart disease.