Just in case my prior blog post did not wake you up, here is a quick recap. The Heart Foundation says there are 80 million Americans with some type of heart disease. That is just about everybody in America over the age of 50. (We know that since heart disease manifests in mostly people over that age of 50 years and there are 80 million Americans who are 50 or older.) According to the CDC, nearly 21 million people are actually aware of their cardiovascular disease. The others are waiting until symptoms of their heart disease actually show up.
So saying that heart disease is in fact coming to a person near you—or maybe even you—is not merely rhetoric. I hope you wake up before something bad happens, such as a heart attack or a stroke. Some people who have survived these events are so incapacitated that they tell me that the non-survivors were the lucky ones. Think about that for a moment.
The goal is to keep yourself healthy and avoid that fate. Therefore, the first question you should ask is, “Am I building fat in my arteries?” Based on the above population based data, the answer is not maybe, it’s a definite yes.
I wish the families and friends of patients who have just had cardiovascular events would simply ask this question. I wrote the blog post “Baba’s Heart Surgery—Who’s Next?” to prompt them to consider whether they will be the next ones on my operating table.
The next logical question should be, “Why I am building fat in my arteries?”
As we pointed out in the last blog post, the natural location in our body for fat storage is not the arteries. Take a second look at the picture below; the baby portrayed has a lot of fat everywhere, but not the arteries. It should be obvious from this discussion that there more to the story than merely having too much fat.
There are many types of fat circulating in your blood commonly called cholesterol. The good cholesterol, the bad cholesterol, the very bad cholesterol, the “we don’t know what this is” cholesterol and so on. These are all simply bad fats in your circulation that like to build in the arteries. It is has been shown that the higher the bad cholesterol, the higher your chances of fat build up in the arteries. So while pills can bring down levels of bad cholesterol, most people continue to build fat in the arteries. This finding means that there has been a change/damage to the arteries making them attract fat build up.
Hence the formula:
The bad cholesterol + damaged arteries = fat build up in the arteries.
In the upcoming blogs we will explore this equation further so that you can take the right steps to protect yourself.