Nine Steps to Decrease Your Heart Disease Risk
How to truly decrease your likelihood of succumbing to heart disease
It’s February and with that comes heart disease month. Considering it kills more Americans than any other disease, perhaps more than one month per year should be dedicated to heart disease awareness.
It can be frustrating and a bit terrifying to know that 1 million Americans die each year as a result of a preventable disease. Every 36 seconds an American suffers a heart attack – are they preventable as well? Yes.
I speak a great deal at Silicon Valley corporations and February is definitely popular for my “Healthy Heart” lecture. I always make it a point to ask my audiences if they are aware that heart disease is not only preventable but reversible. The answer is almost always no. Americans are unaware that the disease killing most of us is avoidable and reversible, meaning it’s never too late.
Research has discovered that 90% of the risk for having your first heart attack can be traced to nine factors – nine lifestyle factors you can change.
What are the 9 lifestyle factors?
- High blood pressure
- High levels of bad cholesterol
- Overweight – especially abdominal fat
- Lack of adequate amounts of fruits daily
- Lack of adequate amounts of vegetables daily
- Lack of daily exercise
Does the list seem daunting? Don’t let it deter you. Living is worth it! Let’s break it down:
Smoking is a choice. Is it addicting, you bet, but make the decision that your longevity is worth it. If you just can’t confront it as first on the list, don’t worry, there are other things worth tackling as well. Let’s just set it aside for now and get to work on what you can confront.
So what is it? Maybe moving towards a plant-based diet is a good first step for you. That way you’re moving towards something that’s an addition to your lifestyle, rather than taking something away.
Fruits and Vegetables
We’re shooting for 9 servings of fruits and veggies each day. If you need help figuring out how to accomplish that, we’re here for you! The benefit of hitting that amount each day is almost hard to measure.
A whole foods plant-based diet with 9 servings of fruits and vegetables, along with beans and legumes and a small amount of healthy fat, has been proven to reverse heart disease in landmark studies of hundreds of thousands of people.
Does that mean boring, steamed veggies and salads with no dressing? Absolutely not! We are speaking of highly flavorful, interesting, and satisfying food. I hate steamed veggies and I would never ask you to eat anything so bland or boring.
Okay. So let’s say you’ve been moving along well with the addition of more plant-based foods and are ready for another step.
Let’s look at moving your body. How far? About 2 miles per day. How long? About ½ hour. It’s exciting that just 30 minutes of walking at a moderate pace will have great effects on your heart health. How do you know what a moderate pace is? Good question: it will allow you to log about 2 miles. Use your smartphone or Fitbit, if you have one, but find out what pace gets you to travel 2 miles in 30 minutes and do that at least 5 times per week.
Let’s say you tried that and couldn’t make it and had to call an Uber. That’s okay, let’s start slow and build up. Perhaps you walk around your block once for 5 or 10 minutes. If that feels okay, just add 2 to 5 minutes to that each day until you can build up. The idea is to keep track of how you’re doing each day, and just strive for a subtle increase until you attain your goal of 2 miles. There are some apps that can help you with this.
If for some reason you have a physical limitation that doesn’t allow you to walk, just contact us and we can figure out some alternative for you.
If the exercise caused you physical discomfort, exhaustion, or an unwell feeling, there is a reason. Don’t worry – we can help you with that. In this situation it’s not a matter of “no pain, no gain”, your body is trying to tell you something and we need to listen. That doesn’t mean you can’t get back to healthful exercise, it just means we need to work on some areas of your internal health first. Not a problem!
And speaking of an area of the body that can cause you to not tolerate the exercise, stress levels are monitored by your stress gland, the adrenal gland. The adrenals are one such area of the body that when overtaxed, causes you to feel worse after exercise. The good news is they are not hard to fix and it can be addressed naturally.
In addition to their effect on exercise, the adrenal glands, when malfunctioning, don’t make normal amounts of anti-inflammatories. Inflammation is at the root cause of ALL degenerative diseases, including heart disease, and balancing inflammatory tendencies with natural anti-inflammatories is key to reversing and controlling heart disease. The adrenals, and therefore stress, play a large role in that vital activity.
Weight, blood pressure, bad cholesterol, and type II diabetes
All right, we are making our way through the list very well. What’s left really, are the conditions that result from not doing what we have discussed so far. Overweight, high blood pressure, high bad cholesterol, and type II diabetes, all are modifiable and correctable. What’s exciting is the tight interrelationship between all these factors. Did you know that once you’re diagnosed with type II diabetes you’re put in the same medical category as if you’ve already had a heart attack?
Obviously diabetes and heart disease are related and have similar risk factors. That’s bad news and good news. The bad is that having one puts you at risk for the other, but… on the flip side, reducing your risk of one reduces your risk of the other.
In fact, reducing your risk of heart disease reduces not only your risk of type II diabetes but it also reduces your risk of cancer – that’s exciting!
Are you on medications for any of the above conditions? That’s fine; side effects aside (which sometimes interfere with the steps we are trying to take) we regularly are able to eliminate medications for blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes, once we start moving forward on our root cause medicine program. It’s always delightful to find a patient no longer needing medication because the underlying root cause symptoms have been addressed.
We see such results often, but it never ceases to make us, and of course our patients, very happy!
How do you feel now that we’ve been through the list? Does it seem less overwhelming? Hopefully, it does… Regardless, I want you to reach out and let us help you. Heart disease is avoidable and reversible in all but the direst cases. The human body is designed to heal and does so with just a little help in the right direction. [By the way, if you missed last week’s blog on the number one step to take to avoid heart disease, you can find it here.]
We are here to help you and anyone you know who has or is at risk of developing our number one killer – heart disease. Could we really make a dent in saving lives? Absolutely! And we are committed to achieving that goal.
Do you need help with your health?
We have the tools to discover why you may be having trouble with a weakened immune system. It’s not difficult as long as you’re ready to make some dietary and lifestyle changes. If that sounds daunting, don’t worry. We will hold your hand through the changes and make each step of change an easy one.
For more information, call Saratoga: (408) 542-0354 or Clearwater: (727) 339-6008
Dr. Vikki Petersen DC. CCN
Founder of Root Cause Medical Clinic
Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner
Dr Vikki Petersen is a public speaker, author of two books, several eBooks and creates cutting edge content for her YouTube community. Dr Vikki is committed to bringing Root Cause Medicine and its unique approach to restoring health naturally to the world.
Circulation. 2002; 106: 3143. National Cholesterol Education Program Expert Panel. Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults (Adult Treatment Panel III).
D Steinberg. Thematic review series: the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. An interpretive history of the cholesterol controversy, part V: the discovery of the statins and the end of the controversy. The Journal of Lipid Research. 2006 Jul;47(7):1339-51.
B McManus. INTERHEART: Nine factors that could save your life. Healthcare Quarterly. 2005;8(1):28.