Cardiovascular Disease Overview (Holistic)
About This Condition
A heart-to-heart on cardiovascular disease: Make simple changes to help you beat the odds against heart disease, a leading cause of death.
About This Condition
Cardiovascular disease is a wide-encompassing category that includes all conditions that affect the heart and the blood vessels.
Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in the United States. This introductory article briefly discusses several diseases that have a role in the development of cardiovascular disease. Many risk factors are associated with cardiovascular disease; most can be managed, but some cannot. The aging process and hereditary predisposition are risk factors that cannot be altered. Until age 50, men are at greater risk than women of developing heart disease, though once a woman enters menopause , her risk triples.1
Many people with cardiovascular disease have elevated or high cholesterol levels.2 Low HDL cholesterol (known as the “good” cholesterol) and high LDL cholesterol (known as the “bad” cholesterol) are more specifically linked to cardiovascular disease than is total cholesterol.3 A blood test, administered by most healthcare professionals, is used to determine cholesterol levels.
Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) of the vessels that supply the heart with blood is the most common cause of heart attacks . Atherosclerosis and high cholesterol usually occur together, though cholesterol levels can change quickly and atherosclerosis generally takes decades to develop.
The link between high triglyceride levels and heart disease is not as well established as the link between high cholesterol and heart disease. According to some studies, a high triglyceride level is an independent risk factor for heart disease in some people.4
High homocysteine levels have been identified as an independent risk factor for heart disease.5 Homocysteine can be measured by a blood test that must be ordered by a healthcare professional.
Hypertension (high blood pressure) is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and the risk increases as blood pressure rises.6 Glucose intolerance and diabetes constitute separate risk factors for heart disease. Smoking increases the risk of heart disease caused by hypertension.
Abdominal fat, or a “beer belly,” versus fat that accumulates on the hips, is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attack.7 Overweight individuals are more likely to have additional risk factors related to heart disease, specifically hypertension, high blood sugar levels, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, and diabetes.
People with cardiovascular disease may not have any symptoms, or they may experience difficulty in breathing during exertion or when lying down, fatigue, lightheadedness, dizziness, fainting, depression , memory problems, confusion, frequent waking during sleep, chest pain, an awareness of the heartbeat, sensations of fluttering or pounding in the chest, swelling around the ankles, or a large abdomen.
Healthy Lifestyle Tips
Both smoking8 and exposure to secondhand smoke9 increase cardiovascular disease risk.
Moderate exercise protects both lean and obese individuals from cardiovascular disease.10
The right diet is the key to managing many diseases and to improving general quality of life. For this condition, scientific research has found benefit in the following healthy eating tips.
What Are Star Ratings?
Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.
For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.
3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
2 Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.
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4. Gotto AM Jr. Triglyceride as a risk factor for coronary artery disease. Am J Cardiol 1998;1998;82:Q22–5 [review].
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16. Hu FB, Stampfer MJ, Rimm E, et al. Dietary fat and coronary heart disease: a comparison of approaches for adjusting for total energy intake and modeling repeated dietary measurements. Am J Epidemiol 1999;149:531–40.
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20. He J, Ogden LG, Vupputuri S, et al. Dietary sodium intake and subsequent risk of cardiovascular disease in overweight adults. JAMA 1999;282:2027–34.
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22. Shaper AG, Wannamethee SG. Alcohol intake and mortality in middle aged men with diagnosed coronary heart disease. Heart 2000;83:394–9.
23. Lehtonen HM, Suomela JP, Tahvonen R, et al. Different berries and berry fractions have various but slightly positive effects on the associated variables of metabolic diseases on overweight and obese women. Eur J ClinNutr 2011;65:394-401.
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Last Review: 11-07-2012
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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2013.
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