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Cardiovascular Diseases

On a beautiful morning while I was almost ready to get out of bed….. Suddenly, I was interrupted by the disturbing noise of ambulance in my neighborhood … I rolled down the window, just to notice that my new neighbor, who is almost in late thirties was carried away by paramedics…. Later that day got the news that he had suffered from cardiac arrest… but by God’s grace he has survived.



How many of us can get lucky this way….

February is American Heart Month. With so much love and hearty messages floating around what can be more important then to take good care of our hearts physically and emotionally.

What exactly are Cardiovascular Diseases???

Cardiovascular Diseases (CVD): General term describing diseases of heart and blood vessels.

Coronary Heart Disease (CHD): a condition characterized by reduced blood flow in coronary arteries that can eventually cause damage to heart tissue also called Coronary artery disease.

Myocardial Infarction or MI: Death of heart muscle caused by a sudden reduction in coronary blood flow also called a heart attack or cardiac arrest.

Stroke: A sudden injury to brain tissue resulting from distributed blood flow through an artery that supplies blood to the brain, also called cerebrovascular accident.

Metabolic syndrome: A cluster of interrelated clinical symptoms which together increase cardiovascular disease risk: the symptoms are obesity, insulin resistance, high blood pressure, and abnormal blood lipids.

Atherosclerosis: is characterized by build of plaque (fatty material) on an artery’s wall. Rupture of plaque can lead to thrombosis and obstruction of blood flow. Factors that cause plaque formation and progression include inflammation, hypertension, smoking, hyperlipidemias and diabetes.

CHD: Coronary heart disease is the most common and leading cause of death in United States.

Risk Factors for CHD:

Major Risk Factors For CHD (not modifiable)

  • Increased age
  • Male Gender
  • Family History of Premature Heart disease.

Major Risk Factors For CHD (modifiable)

  • High Blood LDL cholesterol
  • Low Blood HDL cholesterol
  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity (specially abdominal obesity)
  • Physical Inactivity
  • Cigarette Smoking
  • Atherogenic Diet (High in Saturated Fats and low in Fruits, vegetables and whole grains)

Studies have shown that about 90% of people with CHD have at least one of the classic modifiable factors: smoking, high LDL cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Standards for CHD risk assessments:

 DesirableBorder LineHigh Risk    Total Blood Cholesterol (mg/dL)< 200200-239>=240    LDL cholesterol(mg/dL)<100130-159160-189    HDL cholesterol(mg/dL)>=6059-40<40    Triglycerides(mg/dL)<150159-199200-499    Body mass Index(BMI)18.5-24.9 (healthy)25-29.9 (overweight)>= 30 (obese)    Blood Pressure (systolic and/or diastolic) pressure<120/<80120-139/80-89>=140/>=90


Abdominal obesity is suggested by a waist circumference, greater than 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women.

Hypertriglyceridemia is elevated blood triglycerides. Overweight, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle and cigarette smoking may increase triglyceride levels. Dietary factors that may raise triglycerides includes high intake of alcohol, or carbohydrate (sucrose and fructose) have strongest effect. Controlling body weight, being physically active, quitting smoking, restricting alcohol and avoiding high carbohydrate intakes are basic treatments.

Hypertension affects nearly one-third of adults in the United States. Blood pressure is measured both when heart muscles contract (systolic blood pressure) and when it releases (diastolic blood pressure).

Contributing factors for Hypertension:

  • Aging
  • Genetics
  • Obesity
  • Alcohol
  • Salt sensitivity
  • Diet

Life style modification for blood pressure reduction:

  • Maintaining healthy body weight (BMI<25)
  • Adopt DASH eating plan – adopting diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low fat milk products and reduced saturated fat intake.
  • Reducing dietary sodium intake to less than 2400 mg/day.
  • Performing aerobic activities for at least 30 mins/day for most days of the week.
  • Limiting alcohol consumption for men –2 drinks/day and women 1 drink/day.

Cognitive Heart Failure (CHF): is a condition in which heart is unable to pump adequate blood resulting in fluid congestion in tissues and in the veins leading to the heart.

Treatment of CHF includes drug therapies that reduce congestion and strengthen heart function. The main Dietary recommendation is moderate sodium restriction.

Cardiac Cachexia: the severe muscle wasting and weight loss that accompany congestive heart failure.

Stroke: Stroke is fourth leading cause of death in the United Sates after heart and cancer. The two major types of strokes are ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke.

Ischemic stroke are strokes that result from the obstruction of blood flow to brain tissue.

Hemorrhagic strokes are strokes that result from bleeding within the brain, which destroys or compresses brain tissue.

Transient Ischemic attacks brief ischemic episodes that cause short-term neurological symptoms such as blurred vision, slurred speech, numbness, paralysis or difficulty speaking. They are short-lived “mini strokes” and are warning signs that a more severe stroke may occur.

Strokes are largely preventable by reversing modifiable risk factors, which include hypertension, cigarette smoking, diabetes mellitus, and elevated LDL cholesterol.

Treatment includes the use of anticlotting drugs such as aspirin, antiplatelet drugs, and anticoagulants. A patient who has had a major stroke may have problems eating normally due to lack of coordination and dysphagia (difficulty swallowing).

Source: Nutrition and Diet Therapy by DeBruyne, Pinna and Whitney.

Now that we have known the conditions and their symptoms, follow up next blog for the exclusive diet program known as ‘ Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) designed for these health issues….