As a dude, you've got a lot on your plate, right? I mean you've got your job stuff (deadlines, meetings, conferences, assignments), your home stuff (mowing the yard, washing the cars, repairs, picking up clothes from the cleaners), your family stuff (kids/grandkids, date night, doc appointments, pets), etc. And all this 'stuff' is super important, but are you considering the one thing that allows you to get it all done? I'm talking about the health stuff.
Did you know that 67% of gym membership owners don't even go to the gym and those that do, on average, only go 2 times per week. Crazy right? What about this? The first symptom of heart disease, in more than half of all those diagnosed, is a severe heart attack or death. Isn't that staggering? Every 43 seconds someone suffers a heart attack. You could be walking around with heart disease RIGHT NOW and not even know it!
Most men either don't give it any thought or believe that it only happens to the other guy. The fact is, heart disease kills 1 in 4 people. So as you sit here reading this, look up and scan the room. 1 out of 4 people you're looking at will die prematurely from heart disease, and the likelihood of it being a male is quite a bit higher than it being a female. Like...more than half.
So I hope I've gotten your attention, because you're life could depend on the next little bit I'm going to cover here. I hope you take what I'm about to lay down for you seriously and use the information to take action against this silent killer. My goal here is to tell you exactly what heart disease is, how you get it, how to prevent it, and how to fix it if you've already been diagnosed.
What is heart disease?
Heart disease is a condition where the vessels around your heart become narrowed or blocked by plaque, preventing oxygen rich blood from getting to an area or areas of your heart. You see, your heart pumps blood throughout your body, but it also pumps blood to itself. It has coronary arteries that surround it, transporting blood to itself. When one of these coronary arteries become clogged, this causes that area of your heart to starve from lack of oxygen.
If this goes on for too long, that particular area of your heart will eventually die. If it's a large enough area of your heart, you also will die. If the heart damage (infarction) is too large, it affects the pumping ability of the heart rendering it ineffective.
#ProTip-Keep Aspirin in your cabinet. It thins out the blood, promotes blood flow through coronary vessels and can alleviate ischemic chest pain.
What causes it?
So now that I've gotten your attention, you're probably asking yourself right now, how does this happen and what can I do about it? The good news is, in most cases (other than a genetic disposition) this is a preventable and reversible situation. The bad news is that HALF of Americans have AT LEAST one risk factor for the development of heart disease!
These risk factors include age (older people have higher risks), sex (males have higher incidence), family history, smoking, obese, hypertension, high blood cholesterol, and diabetes. The real culprit in heart disease, however, is oxidative stress.
I recently read a study that showed that those 60 years and younger who have higher levels of oxidized LDL are at more than 3 times the risk of coronary artery disease than others with lower levels of oxidized LDL. For those older than 60, the culmination of risk factors associated with aging (other than oxidized LDL) lessen the risk of heart disease associated with their oxidized LDL levels.
Oxidative stress is something we all experience. It's part of aerobic metabolism. Our body runs on the energy molecule ATP. Like an engine, the mitochondria take in nutrients (fuel) and creates energy for our bodies to carry out all of the millions of processes needed to live. Also like a car engine kicks out exhaust, as our mitochondria create energy, they also kick out a byproduct called free radicals. Fortunately our bodies were designed with anti-oxidant defense systems glutathione peroxidase, superoxide dismutase, and catalase. They fight to protect our bodies from oxidative stress by neutralizing free radicals.
Unfortunately, these days we're exposed to far too many toxins than our body's defense systems can handle. It's not like it was 100 years ago when there were no pollutants, no toxic chemical exposure like we're constantly bombarded with today, people weren't over-consuming all this processed junk we call food, and NOBODY stayed inside playing video games or watching TV.
That being said, heart disease is a LIFESTYLE disease. For the majority of Americans, you can begin taking steps TODAY that will begin to reverse the damage that's already been done. Or, for you young'ns, you can do things today to prevent from ever getting heart disease.
What can you do?
What things you might ask? Let's begin with heart healthy eating habits. Push away from the table people! If you would just split your servings in half, you'd take in half of the calories you take in now. Also, stop opting for the low fat foods. When you see "low fat", I want you to think "high sugar". They've got to get the flavor in there somehow if they're taking out the fat! Instead, choose healthy fats (nuts, avocados, coconuts, fatty fish like salmon, etc)
Eat more fruits and vegetables. They are the very best sources of antioxidants. Eat more fish. Omega 3s are super important in reducing the risk of heart disease. If no fish, you can take in fish oil. If you'd like some recommendations on which fish oil, hit me up. I'll tell you what I take and why I take it. Same with my multi-vitamin (It's strategic). Which brings me to supplementation. A high quality multi-vitamin that delivers nutrients with the right ratios, in the right amounts has been demonstrated to be effective in reducing oxidative stress. Despite what your doctor may tell you, the American Medical Association's stance is "it would be prudent for all adults to take a multivitamin."
Check that scale. Most people, as they begin to lose weight, become normotensive, meaning their blood pressure normalizes. Also, people with Type II diabetes also begin to need less of their diabetes medications. If you remember above, diabetes is one of the risks for heart disease. Type II diabetes is also an oxidative stress issue whereby insulin receptors become oxidized, making it difficult for insulin to bind with them. The insulin receptors could be compared to a rusty lock where there are plenty of keys (insulin), but all the locks are rusty. Become more active. If overweight or obese people would just lose 20 pounds, it would completely change their lives.
Stop smoking. Really. Stop it already. You know it's horrible for you. You probably smell like an ashtray, but people don't tell you because they either don't want to hurt your feelings or they think you already know and just don't care. Also, it's not a matter of if, but a matter of when. Smoking causes cancer. If you don't get it, someone near you will because of you. Lastly, smoking is the single biggest activity you can perform that causes the most amount of oxidative stress in your body. If you asked me "Nurse Mike, how can I increase my risk for all cause mortality, speed up the aging process, severely reduce the elasticity in my skin, knock decades off my life, and decrease my quality of life while I'm still around?" I'd tell you start smoking. Yep, it does all of that. So, why are you still smoking again?
Depending how old you are, you need to start getting yourself checked out. It's important to start seeing your doctor at least once every other year starting at age 30, and then yearly at age 50. You know, just to get your labs checked, your vitals assessed, maybe some health questions answered that have come up throughout the year. This is a good idea to find out where you're at physically. Plus, you could possibly catch something that might be brewing before it gets too far gone.
So let's see, what is it again you can do to prevent heart disease? Oh yeah...
1.Clean up your diet
5.Schedule regular visits to your doctor
Guys, I hope you've learned a little something today you may not have known before reading. I really hope you take your health seriously. You know, most people don't consider their health a priority until it's too late. Then it's the ultimate priority, right? Unfortunately, it's rarely possible to regain your health back to 100% once it's gone. The key is prevention friends. BUT, if you've already been diagnosed with heart disease, there's still hope. It really is all up to you. I'm here if you need me. I'd be happy to talk with you and give you some personal advice or help to get you started. You know where to find me.
Thanks for taking the time to read my blog friends. Please connect with me on Twitter or FB. Also, I'd love to hear from you. If you liked what you read or found anything that might benefit someone you care about, share this post. You could save a life in the process.