|The sudden bloom of a major killer
Cardiovascular disorders are the principal cause of death in our times. This is especially true of heart attacks in the US and other western countries, which account for about 45% of all deaths. Yet less than a hundred years ago, heart attacks were almost unknown, and we have several lines of evidence about that. For example, the 11th (1910) edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, in the section on heart disease, discusses all sorts of heart disorders but does not have a single word on heart attacks.
Sir William Osler, the greatest physician of his time and the author of The Principles and Practice of Medicine, on which more than one generation of physicians were reared, gave an existing lecture also in 1910 on the diseases of the heart. Once again not a single word was said about heart attacks. Paul Dudley White, an outstanding cardiologist of the mid-20th century, in the process of examining his diaries, was surprised at the rarity of heart attacks before 1920. Obviously, from a rare phenomenon, coronary heart attacks have become our major health problem in less than a hundred years. There must be some compelling reasons for such a spectacular rise, from a non-entity to a principal killer.
Three major causes
Of the various probable causes for the rise of heart attacks and other heart disorders, three stand out. These are our foods and eating habits, lack of exercise, and stress. The change in our foods and eating habits has been radical. The intake of sugar and animal fats has not only increased tremendously, but these foods have found their way in nearly everything we buy, adding their secret calories but also other harmful compounds to our diet. Prepared foods, fast foods and junk foods are prime offenders.
At the same time, the marketing of other foods such as fruits and vegetables, preserved through refrigeration and available out of season, have left many such foods with only a fraction of their beneficial ingredients. The same is true of our grains, where treatment deprives them of the majority of vitamins and minerals. The result is poor nutrition by the gross addition of the wrong nutrients and the sizable reduction of the right ones.
The lack of exercise is part and parcel of a more sedentary life, made possible by the extensive mechanization of work. As for stress, this is the civilized reaction to the predicament, which in animals is known as the fight-or-flight syndrome. The combination of poor food, lack of exercise and stress is not unexpectedly deadly.
Our cardiovascular health program offers the following services: