For decades, government health “experts” have been promoting politically correct, pet theories about the causes of heart disease. They tried to blame cholesterol, eggs, meat, saturated fats, salt, alcohol…you name it.
But, one by one, real science has shot down each and every one of those theories. And many doctors aren’t aware at all of the science. And they continue to ask the wrong questions, issue the wrong tests, and use the wrong numbers.
So, today, let’s discuss five real risk factors for developing heart disease—and what you can do to safely diminish them. (Then, on Thursday, I’ll discuss five lesser-known risk factors, too.)
Five common risk factors
1.) Do you have high blood pressure? As you know, high blood pressure (BP) is always a risk factor for heart disease. But the key is to know whether or not your BP is truly high. Studies show that moderately “high” systolic blood pressure readings of 130 to 150 mm/HG (the top number) can be just fine. It may even be helpful, especially as you get older, since slightly elevated BP helps improve circulation of blood and nutrients to the heart and brain.
The distinction between truly dangerous high BP and moderately elevated BP levels that are actually normal as you age is critical in helping you avoid overtreatment. Research shows excessive treatment with BP drugs is dangerous, particularly in older people—who oftentimes do just as well (if not better) by taking fewer drugs at lower doses.
Plus, in recent years, the safety profile of many supposedly safer, generic BP drugs have been called into question, including angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors like lisinopril. These terrible drugs often cause a chronic cough and increase the risk of lung diseases and lung cancer. Not to mention, a new study earlier this year found that older people who take them may have a greater risk of developing a more severe coronavirus infection.
2.) Do you have high blood sugar? As I often report, having Type II diabetes is another major risk factor for developing heart disease. We call this form of the condition cardio-metabolic disease. Fortunately, once you get your blood sugar under control, your heart will benefit, too.
To help do just that, I encourage you to adopt a healthy, balanced Mediterranean-type diet, which includes:
- Full-fat dairy, including butter, eggs, cheeses, and yogurts
- Wild-caught fish and grass-fed and -finished, free-range meat, especially lamb, which has the best nutritional profile of all meats
- Nuts and seeds
- Organic fruits and vegetables
- Alcohol, in moderation
In addition, cut out processed foods made with added sugars and carbs.
(For complete information about the uncommonly effective, commonsense strategies to prevent—and even reverse—Type II diabetes, check out my online learning protocol, the Integrative Protocol for Defeating Diabetes. To learn more about this special online learning tool, or to enroll today, simply click here.)
3.) Do you engage in too little—or too much—exercise? Leading a sedentary lifestyle is another clear risk factor for developing heart disease. But—so is engaging in excessive exercise (which I call “excess-ercise”), as it can harm the heart and other organs, especially as you get older. (Sadly, as I reported yesterday, the American Cancer Society [ACS] still doesn’t get the message about the importance of moderation when it comes to exercise.)
Therefore, aim to engage in just 2.5 hours total per week of light-to-moderate exercise. Studies show this is the optimal amount needed to achieve good health and longevity—without harming your heart. And things like yardwork, housework, and even moderate walking count toward your weekly total.
In fact, in a recent review of 22 studies that included more than 320,000 adults, researchers found that just 15 to 20 minutes per day of moderate walking benefits the heart. And one of those studies found that people who exercised moderately for just 15 minutes a day lived three years longer than their sedentary peers. (Interestingly, the study also found that heart-health benefits actually plateau out when you walk more than 45 minutes a day.)
4.) Are you obese…or do you yo-yo diet? Obesity is a risk factor for many chronic diseases, including heart disease. But so is yo-yo dieting (losing and then regaining 10 pounds or more), as I first studied back in the 1980s as a medical consultant to a group called “Diet Watchers.” It can cause serious metabolic disruptions. And more recently, a 2019 study of 485 women looked at the connection between yo-yo dieting and poorer heart health. After each up-and-down weight cycle, the women experienced a slight, but permanent increase in blood pressure and blood sugar.
Now, if you’re obese, you probably need to lose weight to reduce strain on your heart. However, if you’re only somewhat overweight, it may actually be healthier for your heart (and the rest of your body) to live with the extra pounds. Especially if you already follow a healthy, Mediterranean-style diet and engage in moderate exercise regularly. Either way, the benefits are clear when it comes to exercise. And a little bit can go a long way!
5.) Do you have trouble sleeping? Poor sleep as a risk factor for heart disease has gotten a lot more attention from the scientific community over the last 10 to 15 years. It often stems from a condition called obstructive sleep apnea, which causes you to stop and re-start breathing multiple times during the night.
Fortunately, studies show using a CPAP device can help eliminate the breathing problems associated with sleep apnea. And many of the machines are far more comfortable than they used to be, for better sleep quality.
Of course, millions of Americans suffer from poor sleep or insomnia—unrelated to sleep apnea. And if that sounds like you, I suggest trying some mind-body approaches—such as acupuncture—to reduce stress and anxiety. In fact, in a recent clinical trial, 18 adults with insomnia and anxiety received acupuncture treatment for five weeks. It turns out, acupuncture increased the participants’ nocturnal melatonin (the sleep hormone), improved measures of sleep onset, increased total sleep time, and improved sleep efficiency. Significant reductions in anxiety scores were also found.
It’s never too late to reduce your risk
Keep in mind, even if you have these risk factors, the human body is amazingly resilient and can routinely repair itself. So, no matter what your age, you can stay completely free of heart disease by making some smart lifestyle choices…such as cutting out sugar; eating a healthy, balanced diet consisting of a wide variety of whole foods; exercising regularly, but moderately; and using mind-body relaxation techniques to improve your sleep.
For more insight into natural ways to protect your heart as you get older, I encourage you to check out my Heart Attack Prevention and Repair Protocol. This innovative, online learning tool outlines the natural, heart-healing pathway to low BP, a stroke-free brain, and never having to take a dangerous heart medication again. To learn more, or to enroll today, click here now!
P.S. Tune back in on Thursday, for my continuing report about some lesser-known real risk factors for heart disease.
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“Your Heart, Lungs + Circulation,” AARP: The Magazine, April/May 2020: 40-44.