The Heart Disease Tragedy

We hear a lot about heart disease and other problems of the cardiovascular system. It has been a problem that has been faced by scientists and health professionals over many decades. We can be forgiven for thinking that with all the attention it has received and all the money that has been spent in trying to find treatments and cures that the problem would have been solved and that the number of people who are dying from cardiovascular system problems would have decreased. This does not appear to be the case. I find the following information alarming.

Piscatella and Franklin (2003) estimate that cardiovascular disease afflicts 100 million Americans (about half the population). One person, in the United States, dies from cardiovascular disease every 34 seconds. This means that by 7 am on any day of the week, 741 have already died of cardiovascular disease, by noon the figure has risen to 1,271 and by the time the day has ended 2,488 have died. Let's put this another way. The American odds of contracting AIDS is 1 in 1,000,000. The chance of being murdered is 1 in 10,000. However, the risk of dying for cardiovascular disease is 1 in 2.

It has often been thought that this is a man's problem. However, there are almost as many women with heart problems as men and it is the leading cause of death among American women. Over 250,000 women die of heart disease each year - which is more than the next 14 causes of death added together. More women than men die of heart disease each year. Twice as many women die each year from cardiovascular disease than from all forms of cancer combined.

Answers to questions about heart disease

What is a heart attack?

A heart attack - also called a myocardial infarction (MI) or coronary occlusion (coronary) occurs when blood flow to a part of the heart muscle is blocked. It is caused by a blockage of the coronary artery, or more commonly one of its sub-branches. This usually results from the movement of unstable plaque on the artery wall, a blood clot or a spasm that seals off the artery. The section of the heart muscle that is without blood supply eventually dies and this produces permanent damage to the heart muscle tissue, which comprises the bulk of the organ.

What does a heart attack feel like?

The most common symptom is pain or pressure or a sense of fullness in the chest that lasts for two or more minutes. Men sometimes say that it feels like having a vice squeezing their chest or an elephant sitting on their chest. Women typically experience a milder pain. The pain or sensation may (or it might not) also be in the shoulders, neck, jaw, back, arms or abdomen. Men tend to have sharper pain than women and also often in their arms and shoulders. Dizziness, sweating, nausea and shortness of breath may also occur.

If you have ever run very hard without proper training you will have felt the pain in your muscles caused by lack of oxygen during the time you forced them to work. Well, your heart muscle always has to work for you to live, so when part of it is suddenly deprived of oxygen the pain can be extreme, resulting in loss of consciousness.

When are heart attacks most likely to occur?

Men may first get the signs of heart disease between the ages of 35 and 40 years. The condition doesn't usually affect women until between the ages of 45 and 64 years.

There are differences in the time of day and the time of the week when heart attacks are most likely to occur. Between 6 am and 12 mid day are the riskiest time of the day - possibly because of the increases in hormone levels and blood pressure and artery stiffness in the morning. More heart attacks happen on Mondays than any other day of the week - sometimes called "Blue Monday". It is thought that the stress of the work environment - especially after a period of relaxation may be the cause.

What is angina?

There are often no warning symptoms in the early stages of heart disease. However, as the arteries that feed blood and oxygen to the heart muscle (the coronary arteries) become gradually narrowed many people experience angina or angina pectoris - "chest pain". The heart muscle itself is receiving insufficient oxygen for its current level of workload, just like the untrained runner's legs mentioned above.

Angina is a sharp, sudden pain - a feeling of tightness, heaviness, squeezing, numbness, burning or pressure. It may move into the arms (often the left arm), neck, jaw, back and shoulder.

Angina is a symptom, not a disease. It is progressive - the pain can becomes more frequent, more intense of both.

Not all angina is the same.

Some occurs during or soon after physical exertion, eating a heavy meal, going into the cold or heat, or as a reaction to emotional stress. Sufferers are usually forced to stop what they are doing (thereby reducing the workload on the heat so that it will have enough oxygen).
Another form of angina produces pain at less predictable times - even when you are sleeping. This form is often a symptom of an impending heart attack.
Angina is a indicator of coronary artery blockage - it affects over 5 million Americans.

What is a cardiac arrest?

A cardiac arrest is where the heart ceases to function - its normal process of pumping blood throughout the body stops. This is an emergency situation as the body, and in particular the brain, needs oxygen supplied via the blood flow. Without this oxygen death occurs rapidly. Most cases of cardiac arrest are related to the heart's electrical conduction system that isn't working properly and the heart beats irregularly, such as in ventricular fibrillation where the heart beat is chaotic and ineffective. Sometimes a heart attack can lead to these heart beat problems.

There are ways to deal with and overcome heart disease.

All of the information provided above presents a very gloomy picture. However, you and your family do not need to be a part of this heart disease tragedy. Any changes that your body makes in one direction (for example, towards cardiovascular disease) it can make in the opposite direction (for example, towards a healthy cardiovascular system). You will need to take action to make it happen. Some of the actions you need to take include:

quit smoking, if you are a smoker then the quit smoking program will help you.
balance your diet,
make exercise a health habit, and
manage your stress levels.
As well as these you need to cleanse your body of toxins - this includes the toxins that have built up in your arteries as well as the rest of your internal tissues. These actions (how to take them, things you need to consider and more) will be included in future articles on heart disease.

Part of the tragedy of heart disease is that, as devastating as the disease may be, it is avoidable and treatable. Far too many people are drawn into the myths promoted by western medicine that suggest little can be done to effectively deal with the disease. Your typical doctor has accepted the verdict that suits the pharmaceutical industry and treats you entirely within their "market". They have largely lost the knowledge and skills to deal with heart disease any other way and now simply perform tests, prescribe side-effect laden drugs and expect you to die soon enough, after they have separated you from a good deal of money. Their approach is massively expensive (consider the tests, drugs, special paramedics, coronary care units and lost work productivity, not to mention the human suffering), quite clearly does not work (just look at the statistics) and simply cannot be relied upon.

Heart disease is largely a lifestyle related problem. There is a genetic component, but that is over emphasized by most of the medical profession who want to excuse their failure. With some guidance and a commitment to make some changes you can avoid or recover from heart disease or at the very least dramatically improve your quality of life if you already have advanced pathology.


Davies, S. and A. Stewart., 1997, Nutritional Medicine. Pan.

Holden, S., Hudson, K., Tilman, J. & D. Wolf, 2003, The Ultimate Guide to Health from Nature. Asrolog Publication.

Pistcatella, J.C. and Frankin, B.A. 2003, Take a Load off Your Heart. Workman.

Saxelby, C. 2001, Nutrition for the Healthy Heart. Hardie Grant.

Dr Jenny Tylee is an experienced health professional who is passionate about health and wellbeing. She believes that health is not just absence of disease and seeks to actively promote vitality and wellness through empowering others. She encourages people to improve their health by quit smoking, cleansing their body, taking essential, non contaminated vitamin and mineral supplements (from and many other methods, including herbal remedies. She also owns Healthy Living blog.

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