What are risk factors for CVD (Cardiovascular Disease) and what is a dietary approach to decrease these risks?
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There are several risk factors that can lead to cardiovascular disease. Obesity and a diet high in salt and saturated fats are two behavioral risk factors.
In order to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, individuals should reduce their weight and also make changes in their diets. A diet that has been developed to combat the effects of heart disease is the Ornish Spectrum, a diet developed by Dr. Dean Ornish, thus it can be used effectively to reduce risk of CVD.
The Ornish Spectrum focuses on diet and lifestyle modifications. This program has been clinically proven to reverse the effects of heart disease, consequently, it can be used to reduce risks. Medicare also provides reimbursement for this program.
Cardiovascular disease or CVD is the broader category that also includes coronary heart disease or CHD. Coronary Heart Disease is still the leading cause of death and disability among US Americans.
There are 3 risk factors that cannot be changed, gender = male, age = older, and family history of heart disease specifically CHD. If you are male, older than age 50 and have a family history of heart disease in your family, then you already have 3 risk factors you cannot change.
However, there are many behavioral risk factors that are within your control. Diet, physical exercise, stress management, weight measured as BMI, smoker vs. non-smoker or never-smoker, etc. The American Heart Association has excellent information and advice on its website.
The best dietary plan to reduce the risk of CVD is to reduce the amount of red meat consumed to no more than once a month. Eat more than 50% of your daily calories from whole grains and/or vegetables, and eat all other foods in moderation. The Mediterranean Diet Pyramid is a good dietary model to follow and easily sustainable.
Attached is a 10-year CVD risk calculator based on the landmark Framingham Heart Study.
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