Having a high (>100 mg/dL) bad LDL cholesterol or a low (<40) good HDL cholesterol has long been associated with increased risk for heart attacks. However, new studies show that you can form plaques and be at risk for a heart attack even if your bad LDL cholesterol is as low as 50.
A huge study from Korea confirms that people with Metabolic Syndrome are at increased risk for heart attacks, and that when they correct some or all of the components of Metabolic Syndrome, their risk for a heart attack goes down dramatically.
Reports from Harvard School of Public Health shows that a diet rich in plants lowers high blood pressure (1,2). It's called the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.) Other studies show that similar eating patterns lower cholesterol, help to control diabetes and cause weight loss in people who are overweight.
A resting heart rate greater than 80 beats per minute is a strong predictor for future heart attacks, diabetes and even cancer. From 1974 to 2002, 53,322 healthy people were followed at the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, Texas. Those with a resting heart rate lower than 60 beats per minute were far less likely to suffer heart attacks or to die than those with a resting heart rate greater than 80 beats per minute
An analysis of 7,743 people suffering from osteoarthritis found that those who took NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs) were at 41 percent increased risk for suffering heart attacks, heart failure and strokes, compared to arthritis patients who did not take NSAIDs.
Since heart attacks are usually caused by plaques breaking off from the inner linings of arteries leading to the heart, doctors use a test called Coronary Artery Calcium Score (CAC) to predict which people have the largest plaques and therefore are at high risk for suffering heart attacks that cause one out of four deaths in North America.
For many years HDL cholesterol has been called "good" because it carries plaque-forming particles from your arteries and bloodstream back to your liver where they can be removed from your body. An exciting new study shows that regular HDL cholesterol may not be very effective in doing this, but another form called Nascent HDL carries these protein-fats much more quickly to your liver to be removed from your circulation.
Stents and Bypass Surgery Not More Effective than Lifestyle Changes and Medication for Stable Heart Disease
The $100 million ISCHEMIA Trial showed that after four years, surgical treatments (stents or coronary artery bypass surgery) were not more effective than lifestyle changes and medication in preventing heart attacks deaths in patients with stable heart disease.
The majority of heart attacks are caused by unhealthful lifestyles, not by genetic defects. Statins remain the major choice of preventative drug, but everyone should realize that many studies show that lifestyle changes are probably more effective than statins in preventing heart attacks.
If your doctor has told you that you have high blood pressure or that your cholesterol or triglycerides are too high, ask him or her for your numbers. If would like to find out whether you are one of the 80 percent of people who can control high blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides with diet alone, follow my SHOW ME! Diet for just two weeks. Then have your doctor re-check your cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure. You'll probably also find that you have lost several pounds.
Heart attacks and strokes cause 50 percent of the deaths in North America today, yet many people are not adopting the lifestyle changes needed to prevent the factors that cause them: inflammation and clotting. A new study from the University of Michigan shows how important inflammation is as a cause of heart attacks and strokes.
On November 10, 2018, heart specialists presented the latest recommendations for preventing heart attacks from the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association: Treat all of their patients with recommendations for heart-attack-preventing lifestyle changes, and Treat all patients with significant heart attack risk factors with medications that lower blood levels of the bad LDL cholesterol.
Your leg muscles function like a second heart to pump fluid from your legs to your heart. When your leg muscles relax, the veins near them fill up with blood. When your leg muscles contract, they compress the veins and squeeze blood up toward your heart.
Almost anyone can get rid of plaques in their arteries, even if they have already had a heart attack or already have severe narrowing in the arteries leading to your heart. However, you have to do far more than just take drugs. The formation of plaques in arteries that eventually leads to heart attacks and strokes comes from chemical processes that start in the liver. Plaques can be reversed by changes in diet, exercise, weight, environmental exposures and medications.
As you age, you can expect to suffer from sarcopenia (loss of muscle size and strength). The smaller the muscles in the arms, legs and trunk, the smaller and weaker the upper and lower chambers of their heart. Having a smaller and weaker heart muscle puts a person closer to heart failure.
High blood pressure (greater than 130/90 before you go to bed at night) markedly increases risk for heart attacks, strokes, heart failure, and premature death. Almost 50 percent of North American adults have high blood pressure, and it causes more than 80,000 U.S. deaths each year. A plant-based diet can help to prevent and treat high blood pressure because it contains lots of soluble fiber.
"You Can Exercise Yourself to Death, Says New Study" was the headline in The New York Post on October 17, 2017. Headlines like that are likely to discourage people from exercising and thus to shorten their lives.
Having high blood levels of the bad LDL cholesterol predicts increased risk for heart attacks, but contrary to what we thought in the past, having high levels of "good" HDL cholesterol does not necessarily predict protection from heart disease. A recent report from the Copenhagen General Population Study shows that having either low or high levels of HDL cholesterol also predicts increased risk for infections such as gastroenteritis and bacterial pneumonia.
Some recent research articles seem to warn people not to exercise too long or too hard, but the overwhelming scientific and epidemiological evidence is that vigorous exercise strengthens a healthy heart and helps to prevent heart disease. Elite endurance athletes who exercise long hours each day outlive their less-active peers, as do Tour de France cyclists. However, three studies raise the possibility that extreme exercise such as running a marathon could possibly increase risk for heart problems, particularly in people who are not adequately trained for their events.
A recent study shows that stable angina patients who exercise are less likely to die from heart attacks. Stable angina means that you may or may not have chest discomfort or pain at rest, but pain occurs or worsens when you exert yourself.
Being overweight is associated with having larger plaques in the arteries leading to the heart and a marked increase and progression of these arterial plaques that cause heart attacks, even if a person does not have the risk factors that predict increased risk for diabetes and heart attacks.
The recently published CARDIA Study shows that having certain types of bacteria in your colon is associated with having high blood pressure, and that you can lower blood pressure by improving the proportion of healthful to unhealthful bacteria in your colon. Lifestyle changes may be more important than drugs in treating high blood pressure.
Most heart attacks are caused by lifestyle factors, not by genes, and the prevention of heart attacks depends far more on what you do now than what you did earlier in your life. It is an incredible tragedy that many physicians prescribe statin drugs to prevent heart attacks without also explaining the importance of lifestyle changes.
The American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology and nine other heart health groups now agree that you have high blood pressure if your blood pressure is above 130/80, not 140/90 as the previous guidelines recommended.
In the biggest advance in knowledge about the prevention of heart attacks since the discovery of statins, researchers at Harvard Medical School have shown that blocking inflammation helps to prevent heart attacks and cancers.
Two recent breakthrough studies give the best explanation yet of how exercise helps to prevent heart attacks. Competitive older endurance athletes may have more plaques in their arteries than non-exercisers, but they have the type of plaques that are far less likely to break off and cause heart attacks.