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it's never too early to think about your eating...

Do you ever think about heart disease in your daily life? When you're chowing down on a bacon cheeseburger, does a little voice inside chime out, "this is so bad for my heart!"?
No matter what your age, it's never too early to begin thinking about what you're eating affects your heart. It's not just a few years of plaque that builds up that causes heart attacks, it's years of plaque building up. Years....
So if you're in your 20's, 30's or 40's... it's time to think about a healthy lifestyle to protect yourself from heart disease.

I'm sure that you've seen similar illustrations that warn us how plaque develops inside the walls of the arteries. We're warned daily concerning the dangers of eating a poor diet, not exercising & the damage smoking can do to your heart.

how plaque builds up in the walls of arteries...

My family was the same. My husband & I both smoked. We were eating anything we wanted, without any regard to what the food was, we just made our food choices by taste and no other determinations.
Then one day, my husband told me he was having pressure in his chest. He thought it was his asthma, so he didn't want me to call the doctor. I had quit smoking by this time. He was still smoking Camel's cigarettes with no filters, or rolling his own cigarettes to save money.

Thinking about a healthy lifestyle is a mindset that must be considered for every lifestyle factor that your body needs to be healthy. It's hard to relax when you're a smoker. Believe me, I've been there. With all the advertising these days about what smoking does to you... your kids & grandchildren are telling you to stop smoking... it's causing them to be stressed out - even for their own health in breathing in second hand smoke!

clogged arteries leading to heart disease

The pain continued throughout the week. I was getting angry at my husband because he wouldn't' go to the doctor's office to get the pain and pressure checked out. I was really upset about it all, very worried that he had already had a heart attack, but wouldn't admit to it.

Not only is smoking a contributor to heart disease, but stress is as well! You know how stressed you are about your cigarettes? It's always, "Do I have enough cigarettes to get through the night?"
Or, "I can't smoke at that party because they don't smoke in that house. How will I be able to have fun & make it through the night?"
And mostly, you can never forget what you're doing to your heart while you're smoking. It's just everywhere. The facts are in front of your face no matter what you're doing!

heart disease

Finally on a Saturday night after taking my son & his friend fishing, he came home feeling very bad. He was having increasingly painful pressure in his chest, through his upper body, shoulders and upper arms.
He ate food trying to feel better, but it didn't make him feel better. I asked him if he was alright and he just said, "I'm fine." so I went to bed.
At about 2:00 am my husband woke me to tell me he was struggling with very bad pain. He was having a heart attack. He asked me to call 911. He knew he was in big trouble.

how normally unhealthy is your lifestyle?
how normally unhealthy is your lifestyle?
a look at your heart... get used to how it looks!

Coronary Artery Disease


What is coronary artery disease?

Coronary artery disease occurs when fatty deposits called plaque (say “plak”) build up inside the coronary arteries. The coronary arteries wrap around the heart & supply it with blood & oxygen.

When plaque builds up, it narrows the arteries &reduces the amount of blood that gets to your heart. This can lead to serious problems, including heart attack.

Coronary artery disease (also called CAD) is the most common type of heart disease. It' also the #1 killer of both men & women in the US.

It can be a shock to find out that you have coronary artery disease. Many people only find out when they have a heart attack. Whether or not you've had a heart attack, there are many things you can do to slow coronary artery disease & reduce your risk of future problems.

cheeseburger, not paradise someday...

What causes coronary artery disease?

Coronary artery disease is caused by hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis occurs when plaque builds up inside the arteries. (Arteries are the blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood throughout your body.) Atherosclerosis can affect any arteries in the body. When it occurs in the arteries that supply blood to the heart, it's called coronary artery disease.

Plaque is a fatty material made up of cholesterol, calcium & other substances in the blood. To understand why plaque is a problem, compare a healthy artery with an artery with atherosclerosis:

  • A healthy artery is like a rubber tube. It's smooth & flexible & blood flows thru it freely. If your heart has to work harder, such as when you exercise, a healthy artery can stretch to let more blood flow to your body’s tissues.

  • An artery with atherosclerosis is more like a clogged pipe. Plaque narrows the artery & makes it stiff. This limits the flow of blood to the tissues. When the heart has to work harder, the stiff arteries can't flex to let more blood thru & the tissues don't get enough blood & oxygen.

When plaque builds up in the coronary arteries, the heart doesn't get the blood it needs to work well. Over time, this can weaken or damage the heart. If a plaque tears, the body tries to fix the tear by forming a blood clot around it. The clot can block blood flow to the heart & cause a heart attack.

smoking looks bad & tastes bad...

What are the symptoms?

Usually people with coronary artery disease don't have symptoms until after age 50. Then they may start to have symptoms at times when the heart is working harder & needs more oxygen, such as during exercise.

Typical first symptoms include:

  • Chest pain, called angina (say “ANN-juh-nuh” or “ann-JY-nuh”).
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Heart attack. Too often, a heart attack is the first symptom of coronary artery disease.

Some people don't have symptoms. In rare cases, a person can have a “silent” heart attack, without symptoms.

check food lables for sodium content....

How is coronary artery disease diagnosed?

To diagnose coronary artery disease, doctors start by doing a physical exam and asking questions about your past health and your risk factors. Risk factors are things that increase the chance that you will have coronary artery disease.

Some common risk factors are being older than 65, smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and having heart disease in your family. The more risk factors you have, the more likely it is that you have coronary artery disease.

If your doctor thinks you have coronary artery disease, you may have tests, such as:

  • Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG), which checks for problems with the electrical activity of your heart.
  • Chest X-ray.
  • Blood tests.
  • Exercise electrocardiogram, commonly called a "stress test." This test checks for changes in your heart while you exercise.

Your doctor may order other tests to look at blood flow to your heart. You may have a coronary angiogram if your doctor is considering a procedure to remove blockages, such as angioplasty or bypass surgery.

i'll have fries with that burger with lots of salt

How is it treated?

Treatment focuses on taking steps to manage your symptoms & reduce your risk for heart attack & stroke. Some risk factors you can't control, such as your age or family history.

Other risks you can control, such as high blood pressure & high cholesterol. Lifestyle changes can help lower your risks. You may also need to take medicines or have a procedure to open your arteries.

Lifestyle changes are the first step for anyone with coronary artery disease. These changes may stop or even reverse coronary artery disease. To improve your heart health:

  • Don't smoke. This may be the most important thing you can do. Quitting smoking can quickly reduce the risk of heart attack or death.

  • Eat a heart-healthy diet that includes plenty of fish, fruits, vegetables, beans, high-fiber grains & breads & olive oil. This is sometimes called a Mediterranean diet. See a dietitian if you need help making better food choices.

  • Get regular exercise on most, preferably all, days of the week. Your doctor can suggest a safe level of exercise for you. Walking is great exercise that most people can do.

  • Lower your stress level. Stress can damage your heart.

cheeseburger, not paradise someday...

Changing old habits may not be easy, but it's very important to help you live a healthier & longer life. Having a plan can help. Start with small steps.

For example, commit to eating 5 servings of fruits & vegetables a day. Instead of having dessert, take a short walk. When you feel stressed, stop & take some deep breaths.

Medicines may be needed in addition to lifestyle changes. Medicines that are often prescribed for people with coronary artery disease include:

  • Statins to help lower cholesterol.

  • Beta-blockers or ACE inhibitors to lower blood pressure.

  • Aspirin or other medicines to reduce the risk of blood clots.

  • Nitrates to relieve chest pain.

don't be a couch potato!

Procedures may be done to improve blood flow to the heart.

  • Angioplasty is the treatment doctors prefer, because it isn't major surgery. During angioplasty, the doctor guides a thin tube (catheter) into the narrowed artery & inflates a small balloon. This widens the artery to help restore blood flow.

Often a small wire-mesh tube called a stent is placed to keep the artery open. See a picture of angioplasty with stent placement

The doctor may use a stent that is coated with medicine, called a drug-eluting stent. Once the stent is in place, it slowly releases a medicine that prevents the growth of new tissue. This helps keep the artery open.

  • Bypass surgery may be a better choice in some cases, such as if more than one coronary artery is blocked. It uses healthy blood vessels to create detours around narrowed or blocked arteries. Bypass surgery is usually an open-chest procedure.

What else can you do?

To stay as healthy as possible, it is important to:

  • See your doctor for regular follow-up appointments. This lets your doctor keep track of your risk factors & adjust your treatment as needed.

  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Do not stop or change medicines without talking to your doctor.

  • If your doctor prescribed nitroglycerin for chest pain, keep it with you at all times.

  • Tell your doctor about any chest pain you have had, even if it went away.

  • Get the support you need to succeed in making lifestyle changes. Ask family or friends to share a healthy meal or join a stop-smoking program. Or ask your doctor about a cardiac rehab program. In cardiac rehab, a team of health professionals provides education & support to help you make new, healthy habits.

it's in the news....

High cholesterol & coronary artery disease

From Healthwise

What is high cholesterol?

High cholesterol is an excess of cholesterol in your blood. Cholesterol is a type of lipid, which is a group of fats & fatlike substances found in your body & in the foods you eat.

A high cholesterol level is often due to a problem with your lipoproteins (low-density lipoproteins, LDL & high-density lipoproteins, HDL), which are combinations of cholesterol, fat & protein that your body uses to transport cholesterol & fat nutrients in your blood.

The other important lipid nutrient that your body processes & distributes along with cholesterol is triglyceride, a fat nutrient that your muscle cells use for energy & that your body stores in your fat tissue for later use.

Why is high cholesterol a risk factor for coronary artery disease?

An imbalance of these cholesterol-carrying lipoproteins can lead to a buildup of cholesterol inside your arteries.

Although doctors don't completely understand the process, this excess cholesterol gets deposited in the walls of your arteries, which contributes to the development of coronary artery disease. The hard plaque that forms in your arteries as a result of atherosclerosis is made largely of cholesterol.

Cholesterol is measured in milligrams per deciliter (mg/d). The following are general guidelines for blood cholesterol levels:

  • Over 240 mg/dL: High total cholesterol level
  • 200 to 239 mg/dL: Borderline-high total cholesterol level
  • Below 200 mg/dL: Desirable total cholesterol level

A desirable cholesterol level also includes a balance of the different forms of cholesterol, which are listed below.

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL)

LDL carries cholesterol from the liver to other parts of the body where it's needed for cell repair & other activities. However, under certain conditions, LDL cholesterol builds up in the walls of the arteries.

For this reason, LDL cholesterol is often referred to as "bad" cholesterol. In general, cholesterol-lowering efforts are most often aimed at reducing levels of LDL cholesterol to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, heart attack & other complications.

  • If you don't have a history of heart disease, then an LDL level of:
    • Less than 100 mg/dL is considered optimal.
    • 100 to 129 mg/dL is considered near-optimal or above optimal.
    • 130 to 159 mg/dL is considered borderline-high.
    • 160 to 189 mg/dL is considered high.
    • 190 & above is considered very high.
  • For people with coronary artery disease, diabetes, peripheral arterial disease, heart attack, or stroke, a new optional goal is to lower your LDL below 70 mg/dL.1  (as you can see above, the underlined link words "a new optional goal," will take you to a new site within my network to show you how to make new goals, how to achieve goals, the importance of having goals & futher instruction on how to plan to achieve your goals! The underlined link word system can really work for you if you use it!)

High-density lipoprotein (HDL)

HDL cholesterol is often referred to as "good" cholesterol because it helps remove excess "bad" (LDL) cholesterol from the body. HDL cholesterol picks up leftover cholesterol from the bloodstream & carries it to the liver for disposal.

Low HDL cholesterol increases the risk of coronary artery disease & high levels of HDL cholesterol appear to help protect against heart disease. If you're at risk for heart disease, it may be beneficial to raise your HDL cholesterol levels.

An HDL level that is:

  • 60 mg/dL or higher is desirable. It reduces the risk of heart disease, even if total or LDL cholesterol is high.
  • Between 40 & 60 mg/dL is considered acceptable.
  • Below 40 mg/dL is considered low. Low HDL is considered a major risk factor for coronary artery disease in people who also have high total cholesterol levels.


Triglycerides are another form of fat found in the blood. High triglyceride levels may contribute to fat buildup in the heart arteries & increase the risk of developing coronary artery disease (CAD).

The following are general triglyceride guideline levels. A triglyceride level of:

  • Less than 150 mg/dL is considered normal.
  • 150 to 199 mg/dL is considered borderline-high.
  • 200 to 499 mg/dL is considered high.
  • 500 mg/dL or greater is considered very high.

Lowering LDL & total cholesterol levels can help lower the risk of CAD, as well as heart attack, stroke & death, in many people with average to high cholesterol levels. People at high risk for CAD are especially encouraged to keep their cholesterol levels low.2

Did that article above just mention diabetes?


Diabetes is a lifelong condition in which sugar (glucose) remains in the blood rather than entering the body’s cells to be used for energy. This results in persistently high blood sugar, which, over time, can damage many body systems.

Symptoms of diabetes include:

  • increased thirst
  • frequent urination (especially at night)
  • unexplained increase in appetite
  • unexplained weight loss
  • fatigue
  • erection problems
  • blurred vision
  • tingling or numbness in the hands or feet

People who have diabetes are at increased risk for many serious health problems, including hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) & heart problems, eye problems that can lead to blindness, circulation & nerve problems & kidney disease & kidney failure.

Diabetes is treated with diet & lifestyle changes & with medications (such as insulin or oral medications). If blood sugar levels are kept within the recommended range, the risk for many complications from diabetes decreases.

Firstborn people prone to heart disease

  • 00:01 24 April 2001
  • NewScientist.com news service
  • Emma Young
  • Firstborn children are more likely to develop heart disease as adults, an Italian study suggests. The team found over 60% more firstborns among a group of heart disease patients than would have been expected.

    They speculate this may be because firstborns are predisposed to developing a more coronary-prone, "type-A" personality. But other heart experts say much more research is needed to establish that link.

    "After many years of practice, we noticed a prevalence of firstborns among people affected by coronary heart disease (CHD)," says Maurizio Ferratini of the Fondazione Don Carlo Gnocchi, Milan, who led the research.

    The team studied 348 people with CHD. They looked at birth order, age, gender, family history of CHD & the presence of other major risk factors.

    And though firstborn & subsequent children had a similar number of risk factors for CHD, 47% of the patients were firstborn, compared with 29% of the general local population.

    Psychosocial differences

    "Because we found the same kinds of risk factors in both groups, we suspect being firstborn is the likely explanation," says Ferrantini, adding that biological, social, environmental & educational factors differ according to birth order.

    He suggests that psychosocial differences might explain the new findings:

    "The family context frequently orients firstborns along a perfectionist path, giving them a determined, winning & aggressive attitude - aspects frequently observed in subjects with a type-A personality, also known as coronary-prone."

    But Craig Haslop of the British Heart Foundation says there is no experimental evidence that firstborn children are more likely to develop type-A personalities. But if they did, it's possible that this might put them at increased risk for CHD, he says.

    "There are suggestions that Type As are more prone to get CHD but there's no clear evidence on whether that is to do with stress itself or the way they deal with stress," says Haslop. "Maybe firstborns are more prone to not eat the right foods to deal with stress."

    Ferrantini's team presented their results at the American Heart Association's Asia Pacific Scientific Forum in Honolulu, Hawaii.

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