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You Really Are What You Eat…

by J.M. Smokes, M.D.

 I recently discovered in the worst way possible that clogged arteries do not discriminate and have very little to do with age.  I watched my thirty-six-year-old neighbor grasp his chest and fall over on his car, as he was washing it one day in front of his house.  The coroner’s report said he died instantly, and his mother said he had been battling the cholesterol challenge for a while. 

He was a big guy with a big appetite, and he wasn’t sick.  Thus, it’s hard to focus on taking better care of yourself, when you don’t have any real symptoms of illness or a sense that anything is really wrong.

I knew another young woman (33) who suffered a fatal heart attack, and she had never been ill.  However, she too favored a diet of unhealthy foods that were filled with fat, and she was also extremely overweight. Based on research, heart disease is viewed as a silent killer that more of us need to fear and be conscious of.  Here is what I know about heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and a very high statistic among African –American women.  

Heart disease, which is known scientifically as coronary heart disease, occurs when the heart sustains damage due to narrowed or blocked arteries within the organ.  Such blockage makes it impossible for blood to reach the heart muscle.  The most dramatic and potentially life-threatening result of this process is a heart attack, also known as acute myocardial infarction.  The severe chest pain known as angina pectoris is a warning that the blood supply to the heart is insufficient, but it is not immediately life-threatening in most cases.

The buildup of deposits of fatty plaque along the arterial walls is a disease known as atherosclerosis.  When these fatty deposits multiply and thicken, they become lesions that can prevent the heart muscle from getting enough blood and, as a result, becomes oxygen-starved.  Chest pain or heart-tissue damage may occur.  The seven most significant risk factors for coronary heart disease, in no particular order, are high blood pressure; elevated levels of blood fat, especially certain types of cholesterol; smoking; diabetes mellitus; obesity; being male, and a family history of heart disease occurring before age 60.

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