According to National Statistics Online, cardiovascular disease is still the most common cause of death in England and Wales. This number is staggering enough without the addition of the idea that men and women are both included in this statistic – meaning that equal risks are inherent for both genders. It is of the utmost importance what heart disease prevention is not only begun immediately, but also the most beneficial steps taken on a daily basis.
What Heart Disease Is
The idea of heart disease tends to be fairly nebulous unless you’re personally affected by such a diagnosis. Even with its prevalence in today’s UK society, matters of the heart are easy to deny. For one, most people believe that heart disease is something that only affects men, but this is certainly not the case. In fact, heart disease is something that affects as many if not more women than men because it is not diagnosed as readily. In addition to this separation of genders, heart disease is also something that people can feel is hereditary – something they can’t avoid if others in the family have had heart attacks. But in truth, many of the risk factors in heart disease can be controlled, if not avoided entirely to reduce the overall risk.
Heart disease is diagnosed in those people with high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure readings, and weaknesses in the heart muscle itself. These can be easily measured in blood tests and in an appointment with a general practitioner. When a patient has higher readings, this can lead to stenosis or a thickening or hardening of the veins and arteries. When this happens, any build up that occurs can cause blood to not arrive at the heart or be pumped away from the heart as well as it could. And thus is what leads to heart attacks and heart conditions. When the heart can not get blood into the heart cavity, the heart muscle begins to die, leading to a heart attack.
What Cholesterol’s Role Is
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is inherent in animal based products. This substance is fine to ingest in smaller quantities, but in larger quantities, the body doesn’t know what to do with it, so it can begin to build up in the veins and arteries. The substance is difficult to remove naturally, so the build up can happen quickly or over a long period of time without the patient knowing. You don’t have symptoms when you have an excess of cholesterol in your diet, so it is often referred to as a silent killer.
Normal cholesterol levels are below 200 mg/dl, but anything that is approaching this 200 mg/dl reading is considered to be dangerous as it can mean that your blood is accumulating too much of this substance.
What a Patient Can Do
While some instances of high cholesterol are due to hereditary, this does not mean that all families will have cholesterol problems if one person does. The first factor that needs to be considered is the consumption of animal based products. If a person is taking in many servings of meats and dairy products each day, this can be contributing to the higher cholesterol levels. On a daily basis, a person only needs to take in less than 300 milligrams each day in order to still have enough cholesterol in the body for healthy body functions.
What is good to point out is that it’s not actually the amount of cholesterol that is taken in, but rather how fast the body can process it. When the body’s liver can not process the cholesterol (usually due to high amounts), the cholesterol sits in the veins and arteries. This is good to know because that means there are other ways to help your body process the cholesterol more easily.
Exercise and adding fibre to your diet are some of the most common pieces of dietary advice a patient will receive, along with lowering the amount of cholesterol in the diet. For some patients, this will not be enough to help lower their levels, so other possibilities need to be tried. Pharmaceuticals are a possibility, but so are natural options.
What the Studies Have Shown
Studies at Harvard University have shown that taking supplements like fish oil can help to promote healthy cholesterol levels as well. The chemical structure of the essential fatty acids seems to help with the processing of the cholesterol, leading to overall lower levels. Of course, this does not mean that taking a supplement will reduce the effect a high cholesterol diet has on your life, but it can be an added helper in your fight against heart disease.
Too many people have high cholesterol levels and are placing themselves at risk for heart disease. But with a change in eating habits, exercise habits, and adding fish oils to their routine, they stand a better chance of not being a part of the grim statistics.
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