Heart Your Heart
As the leading cause of death in the U.S., heart disease kills one in every four Americans, or more than 610,000 people per year. Though genetic factors are present in many cases, diet and lifestyle choices have an inordinate impact on most victims of heart disease.
Humans have always had heart disease in one form or another. Vivisections of Egyptian mummies show evidence of atherosclerosis. But it wasn’t until centuries later, in the 1700s, that a German physician noted that blockage in the arteries contributed to heart-related ailments.
Like much of medicine, knowledge of how to diagnose and treat heart disease accelerated during the twentieth century. Various doctors around the world made advances in diagnosing the causes of angina and in the imaging of the heart and the circulatory system. The beginnings of widespread use of heart catheterization also began.
Researchers in the twentieth century also started noting the effects of cholesterol in blocking arteries and in contributing to heart disease. Global studies of cultures with low fat diets, notably in the Mediterranean and in Japan, found strong correlation with a lower rate of heart disease in those areas. Today it is widely accepted that a low fat diet promotes heart health.
Here in the early twenty first century, state-of-the-art heart care involves a combination of medical and surgical intervention. Research continues in these areas and in other disciplines made more promising by advancing technology. Doctors and scientists are making progress in biotechnology and tissue engineering and this approach has already led to the development of novel therapeutic strategies such as stem cells, nanotechnology, robotic surgery and other advancements such as 3-D printing and novel drugs.
This February, during American Heart Month, is a good time to start being aware of your heart and what you can do to keep it healthy and working for you. Exercise, don’t smoke, limit alcohol use, reduce your fat intake. You only have one ticker. Be good to it and it will be good to you.