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Natural Awakenings Boston

Lifestyle Modifications for Management of Cardiovascular Disease

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death for women and men in the United States. In fact, with responsibility for a staggering 30 percent of all deaths globally, CVD is the leading cause of death on the planet.

In the past, it was believed that heart disease resulted from elevated blood cholesterol, and the accepted treatment has been to prescribe medicine to lower cholesterol and advise a restricted fat intake.

According to the American Heart Association, new ongoing research is now indicating that inflammation is the real cause of heart disease, and there has been a paradigm shift in how cardiologists treat CVD. Aside from cigarette smoking, hypertension, diabetes and high LDL cholesterol, one of the biggest culprits of chronic inflammation is now thought to be a diet that for many Americans consists of an overload of simple, highly processed carbohydrates (sugar, flour and all the products made from them) and the excess consumption of omega-6 vegetable oils like soybean, corn and sunflower that are found in many processed foods.

Dr. Jennifer H. Haythe, a cardiologist at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, in New York City, suggests patients with CVD quit smoking, change to a Mediterranean diet, and most importantly, become more active. She says a walking program of just 10 to 20 minutes a day will be a critical step in improving heart health. Because stress plays a huge role in CVD, Haythe also suggests that all people reduce stress in their life by eating healthy, practicing yoga when possible, limiting excessive caffeine intake and practicing deep breathing or meditation.

For a complete interview with Dr. Jennifer H. Haythe on cardiovascular disease and its management, visit