written for NDNR (www.ndnr.com) and published Feb 2008 Heart disease is the leading cause of the death in the U.S. The World Health Organization estimates that 17.5 million people died of CVD in 2005, representing 30% of all global deaths. Of these, 7.6 million were due to coronary heart disease and 5.7 million were due to stroke. It is also a major cause of disability. The risk of heart disease increases as the population ages. A man over age 45 of a woman over age 55 has a greater risk of heart disease than younger folk. Another known risk factor is having a close family member who had heart disease at an early age. Heart disease kills six times more women than breast cancer (Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics 2006 Update. Dallas, Texas: American Heart Association; 2005) but only 30% of women (from a 1997 national survey) recognized CVD as a leading cause of death.  The Red Dress Campaign, kicked off in 2005, raised this awareness to 55% although disproportionately more of this increased awareness was in white or well...

The American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association have released new guidelines for physical activity that recommend that healthy adults ages 18 to 65 exercise a minimum of five days per week in order to promote health and prevent disease.

Abnormal lipids (fats) in the blood are considered one of the major risk factors for cardiovascular disease, a leading cause of premature death.  Conventional wisdom has been to evaluate blood lipids after abstaining from food for 12 hours.

Hypertension is defined as a repeated blood pressure (BP) reading of greater than 150/90 mm Hg (mercury). There are two types of hypertension: primary (aka essential or idiopathic, which means no particular cause can be identified) and secondary, which means due to some definable cause such as kidney failure or atherosclerosis. About 89% of cases are considered to be primary hypertension, and while no specific cause can be singled out as the culprit, many factors are implicated in the development of primary, or essential hypertension. Some of the recognized risk factors include family history, environment (family size, crowding, eating patterns, occupation, obesity), salt ingestion and sensitivity (there is controversy over whether the sodium or chloride part of the salt molecule is the principal factor), race (blacks have more primary hypertension and more morbidity and mortality than whites), hyperlipidemia, smoking, and diet.

Q: Answer the following for how they may apply to you: Do you laugh a lot? Do you have road rage? Do you consider yourself to have a dynamic personality? Have you ever been told that you seem too competitive? or too anxious? Are frustration and resentment common feelings for you? Do you struggle with aggressive impulses or hostile tendencies? Do little things frequently bug you? Do you get chronic headaches towards the end of the day? Can you ever feel your heart pounding in your chest just thinking about being confronted or challenged? Do you get hot and bothered when other people try to manage your schedule or activities? Are you a woman on hormone replacement therapy or using the pill? Do you regularly eat dairy products or red meat? A: If you answered “no” to the first question or “yes” to more than one of the other questions, you MAY have or be at risk for elevated blood pressure. If you haven’t had a basic physical exam in over a year, do it soon. Or, check your local...

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