What Causes Coronary Heart Disease?

By Hans Diehl, M.D. www.chiphealth.com

Hundreds of thousands of people die every year from heart attacks (coronary heart disease) without a murmur of protest from the public, the press, or government agencies. Yet the nation's number one killer can be found right on the American dinner table!

Do You Mean That What We Eat Causes Heart Attacks?

Not everything. The main culprits are excessive amounts of fat and cholesterol. The underlying problem in coronary heart disease is narrowing, hardening, and, eventually, plugging up of vital arteries that supply the heart with oxygen. The process is known as atherosclerosis.

People are born with clean, flexible arteries. They should stay that way throughout life. The arteries of many North Americans, however, are clogging up with cholesterol, fat, and calcium - a concoction that gradually hardens and eventually chokes off needed oxygen supplies.

"Heart disease before age 80 is our fault, not God's fault, or nature's will."  Paul Dudley White, M.D.

During and after World War II most Europeans were forced to change their eating habits from their customary diet of meat, eggs, and dairy products to a more austere diet of potatoes, grains, beans, roots, and vegetables. The result? A dramatic decrease in atherosclerosis-related diseases, such as heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, gallstones, as well as certain cancers and arthritis. The marked drop in these diseases was felt for as long as 20 years after World War II.

Since then, massive amounts of data have accumulated from research on animals and humans around the world. The results are essentially the same: diets high in fat and cholesterol produce elevated levels of blood cholesterol and heart disease. Diets low in fat and cholesterol, however, reduce blood cholesterol levels and heart disease and arrest and facilitate plaque reversal.

How Can I Tell If I Have Atherosclerosis?

There simply aren't any hints of the problem until your arteries are seriously narrowed, or they plug up with a sudden plaque break-off. Some people begin to experience angina (heart pain) on exertion. For many people a heart attack is the first sign of trouble. About one third of heart attacks result in sudden death.

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