Heart Disease

October 4, 2012

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Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the U.S.A and a cause of much disability and grief to families stricken by the sudden loss of a father or mother. It comes stealthily many times with no warning or with warnings that are unrecognized or ignored.

What are the contributing forces that are silently gathering strength like a tsunami far under the surface of the ocean, building momentum without creating a ripple on the surface, only to crash suddenly on the land with cataclysmic force of destruction.

We know about major risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, sedentary lifestyle, high cholesterol, etc… but nearly 1/2 of people who get heart attacks have none of the known major risk factors.

Regarding the risk factors of which we are aware, we have reduced their effect somewhat, but we have a long way to go to modify them enough to make a major impact on the disease. Many people with hypertension don’t know they have it; of those who are aware of it, a large part do not seek treatment; and of those who are treated, many do not consistently follow treatment. The same goes for diabetes and high cholesterol.

The focus of our treatment of these aforementioned conditions has been primarily medical. The drugs used often cause many adverse reactions, disease, and death. They many times cause people to feel worse, and they may have as yet undiscovered long-term ill effects.

Then there are the less well-publicized or less well-known risk factors. Stress factors without adequate stress management, social isolation, anger and hostility, and poverty, all contribute to heart disease. Some hereditary factors contributing to heart disease have to do with cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension, and also homocysteine.

Most of these contributing factors could be addressed with educational programs aimed at changing behaviors and destructive habits such as smoking, lack of exercise, and poor food choices.

Most of the efforts so far have been focused on drugs to modify risk factors, as well as to try to treat the disease after it manifests. This is a very costly and inefficient approach.

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