Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease

The number one chronic disease that people die from is cardiovascular disease. What is CVD?

CVD includes  heart attacks and angina, hypertension, blood clotting ( excessive stickiness of the blood), peripheral vascular disease -( this is the narrowing of the blood vessels, particularly in the legs).  Strokes ( this is obstruction of, or bleeding from a blood vessel in the brain), and high blood fat levels- which also can cause the above problems. Poor circulation, varicose veins, and edema ( fluid retention) are also part of CVD.

Most people do not worry too much about CVD until their first heart attack or stroke. Therefore, prevention comes after the problems- but there is help.

Many of the above disturbances can be helped with good nutrition. For example: High blood fats (cholesterol and triglycerides), hypertension and platelet stickiness can be controlled by diet.

Here are some specific tips that can help:

1. Stop smoking

2. If you are overweight, lose weight within 10% of your ideal weight

3. Reduce your consumption of animal fats such as cheese, butter, lard, fatty meats and foods made with fat including cakes, pastries, pies and processed and prepared meals. Use low-fat alternatives. Reduce your consumption of sodium.

4.  Use olive and canola oils. Do not eat anything that has in its label: hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated.

5. Reduce consumption of simple, refined carbohydrates. Keep sugar to a minimum.

6. Eat oily fish such as salmon at least 2 portions /week

7. Get some exercise. At least 30 minutes/day. Consult your MD before you start any exercise. Try activities that you can stick to, such as walking.

The type of dietary changes as mentioned above can help lower your blood cholesterol and blood pressure.

Research continues to show that people who consume a moderate amount of fish on a regular basis reduce their risk of heart disease. So if you cannot eat enough fish, try a fish oil supplement.

Taken in part from: Davies, S. and Stewart, A. (1987) Nutritional Medicine. New York, NY. Avon Books.

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