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By the Numbers: What Do Those New Heart Disease Stats Really Say?

The news is out: The number of Americans with heart disease has risen, with 48 percent now diagnosed with a heart-related condition. As reported by Time, these are sobering numbers — and to top it off, deaths from heart disease rose in the year 2015-2016, too.

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What’s not in the headlines is a comment deeper in the article by the chief science and medical officer at the American Heart Association, Dr. Mariell Jessup, who says “ … [M]uch of the increase in the prevalence of heart disease may be attributed to the stricter guidelines defining high blood pressure..."

Let that sink in a moment and then consider: What Jessup is saying is that more people have heart disease because the definition of high blood pressure was lowered, to 130/80, from 140/90, which automatically adds more people to the high blood pressure pool. But then, to get the numbers the article is talking about, researchers applied the new guidelines, which were issued in 2017, to the 2015-2016 statistics — and voila! The statistics show more Americans than ever have heart disease.

Of course that’s what the stats would show, if you increase the size of the pool in which high blood pressure is calculated, you’re going to have more people in it. What really should be in the headlines is that when the guidelines were issued, the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiologists knew it would immediately triple the number of men diagnosed with high blood pressure, and double the prevalence among women.

The intent of changing the definition of high blood pressure was to get more people aware of the health implications and risks of high blood pressure so they would get busy and do something before it’s too late. And, that’s not a bad thing, if you’re also talking about making positive lifestyle changes that can lower blood pressure naturally.

Unfortunately, the answer in too many cases is for your doctor to put you on a drug, and not just for blood pressure but usually a statin for cholesterol, as well.

And then, when the wide circle of side effects from these drugs begin, so too are the number of added drugs your doctor’s going to prescribe to address the side effects. For example, statins have been shown to increase your risk for diabetes via a number of different mechanisms, two of which include increasing your insulin resistance and raising your blood sugar. And you know what happens then: You get to take a diabetes drug too.

The bottom line is, it doesn’t matter what the latest headlines say about the latest heart disease statistics, which have been massaged and inflated by changing how the disease is defined. What really matters is what YOU are doing to help your heart and health be the best they can be.

If you want to protect your heart and lower blood pressure naturally — and along with that your risk for heart attacks, strokes and other heart-related diseases — make a decision to change your diet and increase your physical activity.

The key is to be sufficiently aggressive in your diet and lifestyle modifications. There are plenty of clinical success stories that vouch for this stance. Begin by eating real food and ditching all processed foods and sugars.

If you're healthy and want to stay that way, the general rule is to keep your total fructose intake to 25 grams per day or less. If you're insulin resistant and/or have high blood pressure, keep your total fructose to 15 grams or less per day until your condition has resolved.

Also remember to swap nonfiber carbs for healthy fats such as avocados, butter made from raw, grass-fed organic milk, organic pastured egg yolks, coconuts and coconut oil, raw nuts such as pecans and macadamia, grass fed meats and pasture raised poultry.

Along with diet and exercise, it’s also important to optimize your vitamin D levels, as vitamin D deficiency is associated with both arterial stiffness and hypertension.

That said, if you have seriously elevated blood pressure, it would be wise to be on medication to prevent a stroke while you implement these lifestyle changes.

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