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How to Stop Heart Disease

Elizabeth Klodas, MD, FACC - Blogs
By Elizabeth Klodas, MD, FACCBoard-certified cardiologistJune 03, 2016
From the WebMD Archives

Despite continuing advancements in surgery, diagnostic techniques, and drugs, nearly 7 million people in the world die of heart disease each year. And that number keeps going up.

Recently, Google’s Life Sciences division, together with the American Heart Association, announced that it’s dropping a funding bomb into the battle, with the intent of abolishing heart disease once and for all.

And how big is the explosion? $ 50 Million. All of which will go to one team of scientists in the hopes that they can come up with a cure. This is meant to be a game-changing investment that will propel research rapidly and eliminate a leading killer.

It’s wonderful that there is private sector support for continued innovation in heart care. And it’s likely that something positive will come from $ 50 million.

But Google doesn’t need to spend the money. Why? Because we already know how to cure this disease.

The data is consistent and voluminous: Heart disease can be prevented and reversed - yes, reversed – with a straightforward lifestyle approach. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that complete elimination of high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and smoking would lead to a 50% reduction in deaths due to heart disease in adults aged 45 to 79. That’s a pretty big impact.

Cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity are all food-related. So if you change what you eat – and quit smoking – you can save your life.

It may not sound fancy or exciting like epigenetics or pharmacodynamics. But it works. And there’s simply no amount of incremental scientific discovery Google can fund that can eclipse what we can already do today.

The real problem is we don’t do it.

The good news is that even small changes add up. Eating one apple on one day might not seem like much of a health transformation. But eat one apple every day, and at the end of a year you’ve added 3 BUSHELS of apples to your diet. That’s a lot of fiber and antioxidants – nutrients critical to heart health. Eliminating one can of soda a day doesn’t sound like a big deal, until you consider that this stacks up to 30 CASES of soda in 1 year. That’s a lot of sugar and calories.

Now imagine if, over time, you change it all. The health impact of that would be staggering.

You already have the power to markedly influence your destiny. You don’t need to wait for an expensive innovation in care to save your life.

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About the Author
Elizabeth Klodas, MD, FACC

Elizabeth Klodas, MD, FACC, is a cardiologist and founder of Preventive Cardiology Consultants in Minneapolis. Her professional interests include noninvasive cardiac imaging and valvular heart disease, but her true passion is heart disease prevention.

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