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Escaping the Big 4

Azriela Jaffe

The statistics are scary. Heart disease, cancer, lung disease, and stroke are the four biggest killers in the US, in that order. But there’s a lot we can do to lower the risks of these dreaded diseases

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

With all the focus on other headline-grabbing diseases, it may come as a surprise that coronary artery disease is the leading cause of death in theUnited States.

According to the American Heart Association, one-third of men and women in theUShave some form of cardiovascular disease, and it’s not just in people with high cholesterol. Seventy percent of heart attacks occur in people with a so-called “normal” cholesterol level. It is predicted that in 2013, 1.5 million Americans will have a heart attack with absolutely no warning signs. In half of those incidents, the heart attack will be fatal.

Several risk factors for heart disease are within our control — nutrition, exercise, medications to lower cholesterol, for example. Others, however, are not: the increased risk for women past menopause, who lose the protective benefits of estrogen; a family history of heart disease; and some inflammatory diseases, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, which increase the risk for cardiovascular heart disease (CHD).

But there is good news tucked away in the midst of these dire warnings. When detected early, signs of the progression of heart disease can be halted, or even reversed. And by implementing some simple measures, two-thirds of Americans will not succumb to cardiovascular disease.


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