“A memory is a photograph taken by the heart to make a special moment last forever.” Unknown author
Maybe memories can be made to last forever, but is there help for the heart to last forever, or at least help it stay healthy for your lifetime? To be or not to be, that is the question for the heart. Although heart disease is said to be the leading cause of death, can its onset be delayed, or better yet, prevented?
The heart is busy supplying blood to the body 24/7. If it stops, you will stop, too, perhaps forever. Awake or asleep, it keeps on beating. It can’t stop or even take a break, or the body stops, dead in its tracks.
The heart needs strength and endurance in order to keep on pumping. Give the heart what it needs, nutrition and exercise, so that it can live and beat 24/7, for a lifetime.
Here are a few interesting facts on this vital organ*:
- The human body has about 5.6 liters (6 quarts) of blood, which circulate through the body three times every minute.
- In one day, the blood travels a total of 12,000 miles–that’s four times the distance across the US from coast to coast.
- The heart muscle beats about 100,000 times in one day, 35 million times in a year, and more than 2.5 billion times during an average lifetime.
- The heart pumps about 1 million barrels of blood during an average lifetime–that’s enough to fill more than 3 super tankers.
As the facts show, the heart is destined to a lifetime of “hard labor,” pumping, pumping day in and day out, with no days off and no vacations. How can we help it stay healthy? How can the risk of heart disease be stopped before heart disease stops the heart? If the heart stops, as in a “cardiac arrest,” perhaps brought on by a heart attack, it can lead to the need for CPR, or “cardio-pulmonary resuscitation,” in order to save that life. Preventing the need for drastic measures, like life-saving CPR, is the goal. The bad news is that the heart can stop.
What you need to know: 1) Just like other muscles, the heart can become stronger with exercise. 2) The good news is that there are ways to signal the coming day of doom so you can take action to change and hopefully stop some of the causes of heart disease.
The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) published several studies showing that the blood indicators of inflammation are strong predictive factors for determining who will suffer a heart attack.
The NEJM states, “C-reactive protein (CRP) is a critical inflammatory marker that indicates an increased risk for destabilized atherosclerotic plaque and abnormal arterial clotting. The arterial plaque can burst open and block the flow of blood through a coronary artery, resulting in an acute heart attack.
One of the NEJM studies done by Ridker et al. showed that people with high levels of C-reactive protein were almost three times as likely to die from a heart attack.” C-reactive protein levels also reflects other inflammatory conditions, keep reading.
Although high CRP levels are apparently not the cause of heart disease, research shows that elevated levels indicate an increase in heart attack and stroke risk. January 28, 2003, the American Heart Association and Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) jointly endorsed the C-reactive protein test to screen for coronary-artery inflammation to identify those at risk for heart attack.
The normal metabolic and oxidation processes can create molecules called free radicals, which can cause inflammation and damage cells. So, one solution to the free-radical/inflammatory problem is to reduce the damage that leads to heart disease and to slow down and counteract the oxidation process with antioxidants.
A growing consensus among scientists is that common disorders such as atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), colon cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease are all caused in part by a chronic inflammatory syndrome.
Studies also suggest that higher levels of hs-CRP may increase the risk that an artery will reclose after it’s been opened by balloon angioplasty.
Inflammation and free-radical damage are not diseases, however, they are also implicated in many cancers, heart disease, strokes, MS, Parkinson’s, premature aging, and almost any debilitating, degenerative condition you can name.
Some causes of free-radical formation and inflammation are:
- Processed foods – like Refined Flour, Refined Sugar products
- Lack of exercise – but, on the positive side, muscle contractions during exercise release molecules that contribute to anti-inflammatory actions**
- Air pollutants
- Industrial chemicals
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Drugs – recreational and prescription
- Daily stress – emotional and physical
- Radiation – which includes UV rays from the sun
- Trans-fatty acids
- Too much sugar consumption
- Smoking cigarettes
- The periodic report by the United States Surgeon General states, “Cigarette smoke contains free radicals, and smoking is, at least in part, responsible for some life-threatening diseases like heart and blood vessel disease, emphysema, and cancer,” all of which can kill you. It sounds like smoking may be one effective way to “main-line” free radicals right into the body. That is bad news, but the good news is that you don’t have to smoke. And, if you do, you can quit.
How many of these possible causes are under your control? Probably more than many of us would like to admit. Remember to try to avoid as many of these six S’s as possible: Sugar, Salt, Sun, Smoke, Stress, and Sitting (or Sedentary lifestyle) to help your heart stay healthy.
The image seen at the top of the article, “Warning! Stop! Proceed with Caution!” was taken at Chicago’s lakefront at Fullerton Avenue at the start of the infamous Blizzard of February 1, 2011.
Copyright © Terry Tasche – All Rights Reserved