Is cardiovascular disease inevitable as we grow older? Current trends in this country seem to suggest so. By age 50, almost half of all Americans have some type of cardiovascular disease, as do three-quarters of those in their seventies. And according to findings from the landmark Framingham Heart Study, middle-aged Americans have a 90 percent chance of developing hypertension during their lifetime—which would raise their risk of atherosclerosis, heart attack, and congestive heart failure.
But wait a minute. Although it is true that in most industrialized countries the incidence of cardiovascular disease goes up with age, this may have more to do with lifestyle factors such as diet, obesity, inactivity, and stress than with aging. In some indigenous cultures, with lifestyles much different than ours, disorders of the heart and blood vessels are rare at any age.
Some Changes Are Inevitable
This is not to say that there are no age-related changes of the cardiovascular system. The walls of the arteries thicken and become less elastic with age. There is also some thickening of the heart muscle itself. However, in the absence of disease, the heart’s pumping action remains unchanged throughout life.
Aging also affects cardiovascular performance during exercise. Aerobic capacity decreases, maximum heart rate declines, and there are subtle differences in how the cardiovascular system adjusts to the increased workload of exercise. However, although they might slow you down, these are normal age-related variations, not life-threatening diseases.
These changes aside, there is little evidence to suggest that cardiovascular disease is the inevitable consequence of aging. You can live a long, healthy life free of hypertension, heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular ailments. Here’s how.
Natural Treatment for Heart Disease #1: Exercise 30 Minutes a Day
One of the very best natural treatments for heart disease is regular physical activity. Exercise conditions the heart and stimulates the production of collateral blood vessels, which naturally bypass blocked arteries. It raises protective HDL cholesterol, lowers triglycerides and blood pressure, improves insulin sensitivity, and helps decrease obesity—all significant risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Studies suggest that being physically fit is the most significant predictor of longevity.
Natural Treatment for Heart Disease #2: Eat a Heart-Healthy Diet
Diet also plays a key role in warding off cardiovascular disease. Blood pressure control is easier when you eat more potassium-rich fruits and vegetables and less sodium. (Low-Sodium V8 juice is a particular favorite of mine.) Weight goes down as you cut out high-caloric junk food and excess fat and sugar. Free-radical damage to your arteries is inhibited by antioxidants in plant foods. Homocysteine levels are kept in check by the B-complex vitamins in vegetables and whole grains. Inflammation of the arteries decreases and blood flow is enhanced when you eat the omega-3 fats in cold-water fish and flaxseed. Cholesterol and triglyceride levels are lowered by eating adequate fiber and cutting back on sugars and starchy carbohydrates.
Natural Treatment for Heart Disease #3: Take Protective Nutritional Supplements
Nutritional supplements are also an excellent natural treatment for heart disease. Numerous studies have shown that levels of important protective nutrients decline as we get older. This is why I believe that one of the best things you can do for your cardiovascular system is to take nutritional supplements, including antioxidants, B-complex vitamins, magnesium and other minerals, coenzyme Q10, and fish oil.
Don’t Become a Cardiovascular Disease Statistic
Heart disease may be the number one killer in the US. However, let me make it clear that it is not an inevitable consequence of aging. You can avoid becoming a cardiovascular disease statistic—but only if you elect to opt out of the current American trend of overeating and inactivity and take charge of your health.
To wait until you already have cardiovascular disease is, in the words of Jeremiah Stamler, MD, editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association, “…late, defensive, reactive, time consuming, associated with side effects, costly, only partially successful, and endless.” Don’t put it off any longer.
My Recommendations for Preventing Cardiovascular Disease
Give the natural treatments for heart disease listed above a real try. If you need more guidance, my book, Reversing Heart Disease, provides a step-by-step program for preventing and treating cardiovascular disease. It is available in bookstores, at the Whitaker Wellness Institute online store, or by calling (800) 810-6655.
For more information on the natural treatments for heart disease we use at the Whitaker Wellness Institute, call (866) 632-8890.