Heart disease is not common before age 40, but its onset may begin during early childhood.
"Fatty streaks in the arterial walls have been found in 5-year-olds," said Rhonda K. Christensen, BV County Extension Education Director. "In the transition to adulthood, such streaks can become cholesterol-rich plaques with the potential to block arteries. Genetics, high-fat low-fiber diets, excessive weight and smoking accelerate that progression. The result is a heart attack, if the blood flow is interrupted to the heart, or a stroke, if the blood flow is blocked in the brain."
Cardiovascular or heart disease is the leading cause of death in Iowa, with an average of 34 Iowans dying each day. Risk factors: 81 percent eat fewer than five fruits and vegetables a day, 60 percent are completely sedentary or do not exercise enough, 57 percent are overweight and 23 percent are smokers.
"Many people find it difficult to change those habits and, more importantly, maintain those changes," said Christensen. "It isn't easy to reduce fat intake and become active if it is not what you have been doing all your life. However, a recent research project concluded that intensive diet and lifestyle changes over a prolonged period of time reversed cardiovascular disease, but moderate changes did not stop disease progression."
Read the rest of this article in the 2/03 Pilot Tribune.