Dietary and Lifestyle Interventions for a Healthy Heart*

Chris D. Meletis, N.D.

Heart Facts
The heart begins to beat prior to our birth and pumps life-sustaining oxygen and nutrients to the trillion of cells in our body over the course of a lifetime. The human body has more than 60,000 miles of blood vessels that serve as conduits for the passage of more than 3000 gallons of blood per day.

The heart is an amazingly simple, yet marvelous, pump. So many Americans dedicate large amounts of time and energy to gain outward signs of beauty and health; all the while the most important muscle in the body is sometimes working against all odds. Unlike other muscles, the heart doesn’t get to rest between workouts.

Heart disease and stroke represent the number 1 and 3 causes of death, respectively, in the United States. These conditions are often referred to as silent killers, because the first sign of distress is often the last. The statistics are anything but silent, as they call attention to the fact that more than 43 out of every 100 Americans will die from cardiovascular disease.

The first step for most health-conscious patients who have became educated about maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system is to focus on controlling the classic risk factors (see sidebar). Although this is a good start, it does not represent the full picture when it comes to more fully addressing equally critical risk factors.

Controlling the classic cardiovascular risk factors is without a doubt a good start. However, the next step, especially for those patients with personal or family histories of heart disease, should also consider factors that lead to oxidative damage to the heart and vascular system. These risk factors can be just as important as the more classic concerns. Among these other factors are well known yet frequently overlooked considerations (see box entitled “Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease.”).

The following discussion points are some basic and fundamental approaches to decreasing this second group of risk factors associated with cardiovascular oxidative damage and to promote overall good health.

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