Looking after your heart may seem a pretty obvious thing to do, except when you realise the sheer numbers of people who do not, when you see the alarming statistics with regard to deaths resulting from heart disease!
I'm going to have a go at taking on the health of the heart.
Your heart is something you need to keep healthy, or the alternative is a shortened, weakened and possibly miserable life. That's a truth millions of people in the western world don't seem to want to hear.
They'll go right on smoking, eating junk food, drinking excess alcohol and fizzy soda drinks and (in frighteningly increasing numbers) taking recreational drugs without wanting to hear anyone tell them that they are damaging their hearts, let alone other internal organs. How healthy are you or do you want to be?
Take It or Leave It
So this post may fall mainly on deaf ears (or blind eyes, whichever way you take it), but nevertheless, I'm going to have my say and if just one person who reads this changes their ways and gives their heart a chance, then it was worth writing.
Ok, that's the minor rant part out of the way. Now for the common sense talk.
Heart disease is the biggest killer in the UK and probably the US as well. It kills more people than lung cancer from smoking, more people than even breast cancer.
It kills more people than are killed on the roads. If you want statistics, go look them up for yourself. Suffice it to know that heart disease is the biggest killer of modern times in the west.
So why is that do you suppose?
Why is heart disease not such a big problem in say Japan, or in Africa? In fact, my sweeping statement about the West is not entirely accurate. In Mediterranean countries like Spain where I live, Italy, the South of France, Greece, the Baltic states etc, do not have such a high rate of heart disease as do the UK and United States.
That despite the fact that more people smoke in France and Spain per head of population than do in the UK and USA. There are plenty of obese people in Spain yet so many of them live well into their 80s and 90s. Why is this?
In a word, diet.
Eat and be Merry
"You are what you eat" is a very accurate saying. For it is mainly in countries like the US and UK that the diet is relatively poor.
In these countries, the diet is sadly lacking in fresh fruits, vegetables, fish and olive oil. However, it is higher in foods fried in vegetable oils, snacks and fast food such as hamburgers, hot dogs, pizzas and ready-made meals.
These are foods that are not only laden with trans fats and too much salt, they also contain a toxic cocktail of preservatives, artificial colourants, artificial sweeteners and monosodium glutamate in far too high quantities, despite what government guidelines say to the contrary.
Believe it or not as you wish, it's not my call.
What I have noticed here in Spain that the general diet is more oriented towards salads, fish, fresh fruit and olive oil. Unfortunately, more heart disease is appearing in the younger generations as the fast food monster gets a foothold here and attracts young people with flashy ads and the promise of a fun way of eating.
The older generations tend to shun fast food joints (restaurants is too good a word for them). They prefer to stick to their traditional diets, which is why they live longer despite eating surprisingly a high fat diet, although much of that fat comes from monounsaturated olive oil.
Intensive Farming Practices
What is not helping is the escalation in the use of a cocktail of pesticides and other chemicals that are found on the crops we eat, due to agricultural practices. I fear this is having effects in other areas of health, but the knock on effect must be bad for the heart as well.
So what do you do when heart disease takes hold and your health takes a dive?
Dealing with Heart Disease
Well, by this time of course it's too late to lament on the excesses of your past. It's time to realise that you have no real choice other than to turn to standard medical assistance where your options are limited to drugs or surgery.
Well one form of heart surgery that is open to you when your problem comes from the mitral valve is a special form of mitral valve surgery that incorporates using ultra-modern and recently successfully implemented mitral valve repair. This form of surgery has greater long term benefits for patients that undergo this treatment rather than the traditional method of mitral valve replacement.
Failing that, there are other types of heart surgery open to you depending upon your specialist's prognosis.
All that may sound scary. And it is.
Remember, this article is aimed at heart disease that is for want of a better term, self inflicted. Should your problem exist through genetic disorder or unrelated health problem, I'm not ranting and raving about self abuse to you.
Only to those that were given a healthy heart to begin with and have spent their lives systematically mistreating it.
To have progressed to the stage where you need surgery to treat a diseased heart means your body has taken a lot of abuse and either it happened because of pure ignorance of the consequences of your actions or of burying your head in the sand and ignoring the advice that has been given for many decades.
The moral of this story?
If you have not got heart disease, then whatever harm you've done to your body up to this point can be halted and reversed by changing your lifestyle and bettering your diet and taking regular exercise. It's not too late.
Ditch the burgers, hot dogs, pizzas, fizzy drinks, cigarettes and excess alcohol.
Take some mild exercise and build it up while adding fresh fruit and vegetables to your diet along with more fish. Use olive oil to drizzle over salads instead of vegetable oil to fry bacon etc. It's way better for your heart!