The tendency towards developing a range of CV diseases appears to be at least in part inherited. Such a family history should strongly suggest taking appropriate steps with diet, stress and herbal tonics.
Whole forests have been turned into pulp to provide paper for articles about cholesterol, polyunsaturated fats, and heart disease. Anyone trying to read them all, or even trying to follow the broad arguments, invites a hypertensive crisis!
From the wealth of research done, it has been shown that heart disease has definite links with dietary fat, raised blood cholesterol, raised blood pressure, smoking, obesity, short stature, and under activity. The precise role of these factors is unclear, but enough is known to formulate general guidelines about a possible-preventive diet. Something that is certain is the involvement of fats. While the so-called saturated fats may be the 'worst', it seems that it is an over-preponderance of all fat in the total diet that is at fault. The details are becoming understood, but the more that is discovered, the more multi-factorial it all becomes.
The death rate from heart disease is 300% higher in smokers than in non-smokers in North America. What more needs to be said?
Whilst a small amount of alcohol occasional may actually be beneficial for the circulatory system (due to vaso-dilation), there is no doubt that alcohol abuse is a major contributing factor in heart disease.
Stress and Personality
An association between a particular type of personality and heart disease is recognized. Researchers have shown that there is a difference in the risk of developing heart disease between people with two extreme types of behavior.Type A behavior is characterized by a chronic sense of time, urgency, aggressiveness (which may be repressed), and striving for achievement. They drive themselves to meet deadlines, many of which are self-imposed, have feelings of being under pressure, both of time and responsibility, and often do two or three things at once. They are likely to react with hostility to anything that seems to get in their way and are temperamentally incapable of letting up.
Type B behavior is characterized by the opposite traits., being less preoccupied with achievement, less rushed, and generally more easygoing. They are less prone to anger and do not feel constantly impatient, rushed, and under pressure. They are also better at separating work from play, and they know how to relax.
There is much debate about the value of such personality typing, the details of which do not concern us here. The important thing is the association of types of behavior with disease development. However, we need to bear in mind that there are not two types of people! Each person is an individual, and while it may sometimes be useful to sort people into artificial categories, these categories do not identify them.
Social and economic factors are associated with an increased risk of heart disease; however, the findings tend to vary according to the society being studied. Some studies emphasize high risk in upper socioeconomic groups, while others emphasize the opposite. Some evidence suggests that class variation disappears when the degree of physical activity is taken into account. High-risk factors include:
The relatively low occurrence of heart disease in women appears to be due to psycho-social rather than biological factors. Men are more likely to have an exaggerated striving for dominance and to use work as a major outlet for aggression, and so are more exposed to particular stresses and conflict and are more conditioned than women to "controlling" emotions when dealing with this conflict.
- social mobility involving a change of environment, e.g. moving house or changing jobs.
- social incongruity, which is an inconsistency in people's status relevant to their life situation.