Most of us follow a specific diet for one or two reasons. These are usually to enhance our appearance or improve our cardiovascular health. From an appearance point of view, being slender seems to be considered more attractive by both men and women in Canada and USA today.
Most of us have tried, successfully or unsuccessfully, to shed a few extra pounds before vacation or some equally important event. More recently, dieting to improve our health has been gaining greater importance. The cardiovascular system often is the end point of these efforts. Therefore, we would like to elaborate a little about the importance of the cardiovascular system and the influence of the diet.
Diseases of the cardiovascular system primarily heart attack, hypertension, and stroke are public enemy number one, accounting for twelve million deaths annually. Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death in industrialized countries, and in the next ten years, coronary artery disease and stroke will be the leading cause of death in most developing countries.
Heart diseases, stroke, and, frequently, hypertension are due to the deterioration of arteries through a process called atherosclerosis, arteriosclerosis, or just pain hardening of the arteries. This process is a natural phenomenon of aging. As we get older, do our arteries.
The smooth inner lining called the inti ma begins crack when the middle elastic, muscular layer can no longer fully recoil after a pulse wave has expanded the vessel. In these cracks, platelets, fibrin, calcium, cholesterol, and fat accumulate, creating an atheroma, or plaque.
With continued stress on the arterial wall and further optimal disruption associated with blood flow turbulence, more material is deposited until the artery is narrowed significantly, producing reduced blood flow to the corresponding area of the body. We now refer to the process as a disease, its presence has caused a problem.
A frequent question asked physicians is, “How do i avoid getting arteriosclerosis” The answer is easy. Don’t live long enough. But must patients do not like this alternative. However, some factors predispose one to premature or early arteriosclerosis and subsequently to cardiovascular disease.
It is important to be aware of the risk factors and plan for them accordingly. Some we can alter. Others we cannot. But the knowledge gleaned from being aware of them usually is very helpful in assisting us to enhance cardiovascular fitness or health.
There are three major factors influencing early or premature development of arteriosclerosis:
1- Elevated cholesterol
2- Elevated blood pressure
However, we know that many more factors significantly influence the process. These include the following: heredity, diabetes, elevated cholesterol, obesity, stress, sugar, and sedentary lifestyle.