It's this simple: Nothing ages you faster than mistreating your heart and arteries. And nothing keeps you younger than keeping your cardiovascular system healthy. More Americans—both men and women—die from cardiovascular disease than from any other cause. Current statistics predict that 50 percent of us will be seriously afflicted by cardiovascular disease and more than 40 percent of us "will die from it. Heart attacks, strokes, many types of kidney disease, and even Alzheimer's disease are largely caused by ageing of the circulatory system.
(THIS BOOK WAS WRITTEN IN 2000, BUT SADLY THE FACTS REMAIN, CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE IS STILL ONE ON THE VERY TOP KILLERS; MANY IN THEIR 40s and 50s ARE DYING OF HEART ATTACKS, WHICH WAS PRACTICALLY UNHEARD OF 60 OR MORE YEARS AGO - Keith Hunt)
Most of the premature ageing your arterial system undergoes is self-inflicted. You age yourself by not taking proper care of yourself. The bad news is that most of us are not motivated enough to change our behaviors to protect ourselves from arterial ageing. The good news is that you can start right now.
Your cardiovascular system is the primary system that ties your body together. Because arteries connect to every cell in the body, their health affects your health. Although we hear a lot about heart attacks and strokes, these are only the most dramatic manifestations of arterial disease. By the time a heart attack or stroke occurs, a person's arteries are almost always severely damaged; that is, they've gotten old.
Think of the cardiovascular system as a highway system. If roadways are the infrastructure of the city, the conduits that get us from here to there, then our circulatory system is the infrastructure of our bodies. Our blood vessels carry nutrients and oxygen to our cells and then carry carbon dioxide and other by-products away from our cells. Our arteries, just like streets and highways, wear down. They become clogged with fatty buildup, called plaque, or narrowed from swelling and inflammation. The older and more congested our arteries get, the more subject they are to the body's version of traffic jams— blood clots. This reduction in blood flow means that our cells are not getting the nutrients they need and suffer buildup of metabolic by-products. The heart has to work harder to get the blood where it's supposed to go, increasing blood pressure and stressing the arteries even more. Indeed, just as a major traffic jam can affect a whole city, cardiovascular disease can stress your whole body.
If you look at blood under a microscope, you will see that it consists of not just liquid, but many different kinds of cells—red cells, white cells, and platelets. It is the platelets—and sometimes white cells—that we have to watch out for when it comes to cardiovascular disease. Platelets are covered by an enzyme that, when activated, causes them to stick to other platelets and form a clot. Generally, clotting is a good thing; it is an important function that prevents excessive bleeding. As you age, however, you can develop blood clots where you don't want them—namely, on the walls of your arteries. Over the years, fat builds up on the walls of your arteries, slowing the flow of blood and causing platelet pileups—blood-vessel traffic jams— that further slow the flow of blood. These platelet pileups can form small clots in the arteries. If a clot gets too big, it can fill the entire artery, and blood can't get through at all, causing the tissue supplied by that artery to be at risk of dying. Likewise, when your arterial system comes under stress, the walls of your arteries can become inflamed and swollen, again closing off the flow of blood. In this case, oxygen and essential nutrients don't get to your organs as they used to, causing them to age more rapidly.
How can you prevent arterial ageing?
You probably know quite a few good habits that make a difference: eating a diet low in saturated fat, exercising, and avoiding stress. Conversely, bad behaviors, like being sedentary, can cause our cardiovascular system to age unnecessarily, and bad habits tend to reinforce each other. The worse our food choices, the more likely we are to be overweight. The more overweight we are, the less likely we are to exercise, and so on. Even mild forms of cardiovascular disease can slow us down and make us feel old fast.
The most important step in your antiageing plan is to protect your heart and arteries. That is why almost every chapter in this book addresses the problem of arterial ageing. In this chapter, I show you the basics. I show you how to think about cardiac health as a conglomerate of health decisions that intersect with every aspect of your life. You will need to learn to think of cardiac health holistically: Everything you do contributes to or detracts from it. For example .... drinking a glass of red wine with dinner, and taking the right vitamins in the proper amounts are quick, easy, and painless ways to make your cardiovascular system healthier.
Blood Pressure: Lower It!
Blood pressure readings are measurements of the overall health and well-being of our hearts and arteries. That is why monitoring your blood pressure is one of the best ways of gauging your RealAge. For example, the difference between having low blood pressure rather than high blood pressure can mean a RealAge difference of more than twenty years!
Do you know how high your blood pressure is? Chances are it's too high. Eighty-nine percent of Americans have blood pressure higher than the ideal for preventing ageing..... More to the point, high blood pressure, also called hypertension, is one of the leading causes of heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and kidney failure. High blood pressure has no symptoms. Most of us live with it and feel fine. As a result, it is hard for patients to take high blood pressure seriously or to see it as an indicator of a serious health risk.
(ONE REASON THIS BOOK IS NO LONGER IN PRINT IS BECAUSE, THE AUTHOR GIVES BLOOD-PRESSURE READINGS WHICH ARE TODAY IN 2014 OUT-OF-DATE. SEE THE INTERNET FOR UP-TO-DATE SCIENCE ON WHAT IS NOW CONSIDERED "NORMAL" BLOOD PRESSURE - Keith Hunt)
In fact, I have patients who, even though they know about the devastating effects of high blood pressure..... Here's one story. Roger V., a longtime associate at the University of Chicago, had, over the years, asked me for medical advice. One day, he called me about his father-in-law, Jake. Jake had just retired from a lifetime career as an engineer. A World War II veteran, and proud of the fact that he' d never been sick a day in his life, he was never one to go to the doctor. When Jake had his retirement physical, it was the first time he had seen a doctor since leaving the service some forty years earlier in 1946. Jake reported that his doctor told him he had a 'touch' of high blood pressure—..... more than a 'touch' by anyone's standards. But Jake steadfastly refused to go on any medicine or even to return to the doctor.
Jake and his wife, Sara, bought a motor home. For three years, they took trips, went to art museums and cultural events, and meandered around the country just enjoying their free time. After forty years of working hard, they were finally reaping the benefits. Jake called it the 'great life.' He told Roger and his daughter, Joyce (Roger's wife), 'Don't worry about my blood pressure. Now that I'm not working, I'm not under any stress. My blood pressure's sure to have dropped.'
Since nothing 'seemed' wrong, no one paid too much attention. Then it happened. Jake had a stroke. The stroke left him partially paralyzed and impaired his speech. He needed a walker to get around. In a matter of minutes, he had lost the 'great life' he had worked all his life to enjoy.....
Finally, his kidneys started to fail, a side effect of hypertension. Roger and Joyce brought him to see me.
Giving him the 'cold, hard facts,' I finally convinced Jake to accept blood pressure treatment. With medication, his blood pressure dropped and his kidney function improved. Indeed, he managed to live a fairly good life, remaining relatively independent for another decade, until his kidneys finally gave out entirely. Although his poststroke life was adequate and he made the best of it, it was not the life he had dreamed about. And it didn't have to happen.
(NO THERE ARE MANY NATURAL WAYS TO BEAT HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE.....YOUR DIET, AND EXERCISE, ARE TWO OF THE MOST IMPORTANT - Keith Hunt)
What Is Blood Pressure, and How Is It Measured?
Most of us have had our blood pressure taken every single time we've visited a doctor since we were children. But what exactly does blood pressure measure? What does blood pressure tell us about our overall health?
Blood pressure is the amount of force exerted by blood on the walls of the arteries as blood flows through them. The higher your blood pressure, the more stress and strain you are putting on your body. In RealAge terms, you are burning away years faster than you need to.
The only way to measure your blood pressure is to perform a quick, painless test using an instrument called a sphygmomanometer—the rubber cuff and gauge that they strap on you the minute you walk into a doctor's office. When your blood pressure is measured, make sure to ask what it is and to write it down. Keep track of your blood pressure and how it varies over time. Your blood pressure is not always at the same level. It is often elevated when you are anxious, upset, or in a hurry. Just being in a doctor's office can raise your blood pressure ('white-coat hypertension'). When your blood pressure is measured, make sure you've had enough time to calm down, are sitting and relaxed, and aren't talking to someone about an issue you feel passionately about. If your blood pressure is high or higher than you'd like, go to your local pharmacist and buy a sphygmomanometer. Either your doctor or the pharmacist can show you how to use it. Monitor your blood pressure regularly, keeping track of any fluctuations. You will keep far more vigilant watch over your own blood pressure than anyone else will. After all, it's your body, and you have the most to lose.
(I HAVE A SPHYGMOMANOMETER: BLOOD PRESSURE SHOULD BE TAKEN [A NUMBER OF TIMES OVER SAY 15 MINUTES] IN THE MORNING AND EVENING. WHEN RELAXED - Keith Hunt)
Blood pressure is always presented as a fraction..... The top number in the fraction is called the systolic blood pressure, the pressure exerted on the artery walls when the heart beats. The bottom number, the diastolic blood pressure, is the pressure exerted when the heart is at rest, between beats......
As you age, systolic blood pressure (and sometimes also diastolic blood pressure) tends to increase. Why? As you age, the walls of your arteries become atherosclerotic—less elastic and clogged with buildup from fats and lipids. This arterial hardening forces the heart to work harder. The heart becomes enlarged, and the arteries become scarred and damaged. It is a vicious cycle: The more damaged the arteries become, the harder the heart has pump......
In less than 5 percent of these cases is high blood pressure caused by some underlying medical condition. In these instances, when the root cause is corrected, blood pressure returns to normal. In more than 95 percent of the cases, there is no specific cause of high blood pressure; many times it is the result of the poor care we've given our arteries over the years.
(YES THE BOTTOM LINE IS IT ALL COMES DOWN TO HOW WE HAVE PHYSICALLY LIVED; HOW WELL AND HEALTHILY WE HAVE EATEN, EXERCISED, SLEPT, AND KEPT OUR EMOTIONS IN GOOD ORDER - LITTLE STRESS IN OTHER WORDS - Keith Hunt)
How Do You Achieve Ideal Blood Pressure?
What should you do if your blood pressure is higher.....
(TODAY THE BENCH MARK OF BLOOD PRESSURE IS NOT THE BENCH MARK OF 2000 WHEN THIS BOOK WAS WRITTEN. GO ON THE INTERNET FOR THYE UP-TO-DATE SCIENCE ON BLOOD PRESSURE - Keith Hunt)
Eat a more nutritious diet that is low in saturated fat.
Get more exercise.
Cut your sodium intake to less than 1,600 mg a day.
Increase your potassium, calcium, and magnesium intake.
Avoid stress and consider strategies to reduce stress, such as increasing social connections or using relaxation therapy, biofeedback methods, or yoga.
Because nutrition, exercise, and stress reduction are important components of ageing, this book has chapters devoted to each (see Chapters 8, 9, and 11). If you have higher-than-ideal blood pressure, pay special attention to the recommendations in these chapters. If your family has a history of cardiovascular disease, pay extra attention. These chapters show you how easy it is to incorporate heart-healthy eating and exercise habits into your life. Lowering your blood pressure is not an impossible task.
Talk to your doctor. He or she can help you formulate a blood pressure-reduction plan that fits you, with special consideration for your particular needs and concerns. Your doctor can help you decide if you should be on medicine for hypertension. If so, he or she can work with you to choose the medication that works best for you. Remember, there are several kinds of treatments, and some may suit you better than others, so you should ask about all of them. If you experience side effects or don't feel as good as you think you should, don't discontinue your medicine—doing so can provoke a heart attack or stroke. Talk to your doctor about possible alternative treatments.
(THE FIRST THING SHOULD BE A SERIOUS LIFE-STYLE CHANGE, IF YOU ARE ALWAYS OVER THE TOP IN WHAT THE LATEST SCIENCE TELLS YOU IS "NORMAL" BLOOD PRESSURE - USE THE INTERNET - Keith Hunt)
In addition, your doctor can tell you whether your high blood pressure is 'sodium sensitive.' Many people are sensitive to sodium; that is, their blood pressure responds to the amount of sodium they ingest. If you think that you are salt sensitive, you should cut back on foods containing salt. And if you think that getting rid of your salt shaker will do it, think again. Most of the sodium we ingest comes not from salt we add to foods, but from sodium added by manufacturers to packaged foods. There are high levels of sodium in everything from soda pop to most breakfast cereals. Learn to be a label reader. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables instead of processed food to avoid sodium.
Reducing blood pressure requires more commitment than most of the RealAge Age Reduction strategies that we talk about in this book. When you start to think it's too much work, remember that your RealAge will become 1.5 years younger for every two-point drop in systolic blood pressure and every three-point drop in diastolic blood pressure. What could be better than that?
Stopping Atherosclerosis: Open Up Your Arteries!
The second most significant sign of arterial ageing is atherosclerosis, the buildup of fats and lipids along the walls of the arteries. This narrowing of the arteries can lead to the formation of clots, which can, in extreme cases, cause heart attacks and strokes. Indeed, atherosclerosis is a primary cause of high blood pressure. High blood pressure is often the first sign that the arteries are starting to harden. The higher blood pressure rises, the more quickly fats build up, causing even more atherosclerotic ageing, and so on. It's a vicious cycle. What causes fats to build up? We're not sure. Scientists postulate that either inflammation of the blood vessel walls or an excessive and accelerated bombardment of blood against the arterial walls—the very same conditions high blood pressure causes—triggers this process. Moreover, the higher your total blood cholesterol—specifically, the higher your LDL cholesterol—the worse the problem becomes. There are two common types of cholesterol, low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL). I always remember L for 'lousy' and H for 'healthy' because LDL cholesterol accelerates fatty buildup in the arteries, whereas HDL cholesterol actually helps inhibit such buildup. That's why you want to have a low LDL reading and a high HDL reading. If you have a high total cholesterol reading, have your doctor determine the levels of each.
Men are more likely to suffer from arterial ageing than women and at an earlier age. Women usually don't undergo arterial ageing until after menopause. Also, some population groups and families are more prone to arterial ageing than others. For example, if you are a man and a number of close relatives (a father, a brother, or an uncle) have had heart attacks or strokes, especially under age sixty-five, you, too, could be at risk of atherosclerosis at an early age. You will need to pay particular attention to arterial ageing. The same would be true of people who are significantly overweight; those who have high LDL cholesterol readings; and, of course, those who have high blood pressure.
All of us can do simple things that will help keep our arteries young..... In Chapter 7, learn how vitamins C and E protect your arteries. Taking both of these substances in the recommended doses can reduce your RealAge by more than six years. Be sure to read the section on folate because taking folate regularly will help keep lipids from building up in your arteries. Note in the section on ageing of the immune system that you should be careful to brush and floss your teeth to avoid periodontal disease. The bacteria that cause periodontal disease are believed to trigger an immune response that, in turn, causes inflammation, or swelling, of the arteries. An area can then form along the arterial wall, creating a niche in which fats can accumulate, causing the arteries to become atherosclerotic.
When it comes to arterial youth, there are the additional big three: nutrition, exercise, and stress. These are so important that a chapter is devoted to each. Think of them as being interrelated. By eating a diet that is rich in nutrients and low in saturated fats, you will be able to reduce your RealAge by more than ten years. By exercising regularly (it's not that hard!), you can reduce your RealAge by more than eight years. Pay particular attention to Chapter 11, which gives tips for managing stress, because stress and emotional upheaval can cause significant arterial ageing.
Now let us consider two factors that can specifically keep your arteries free from clots—taking an aspirin a day and hormone replacement therapy.
I'M NOT INCLUDING HERE WHAT IS SAID ABOUT ASPIRIN AND HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY.
THERE IS A LOT OF PROS AND CONS ON BOTH SIDES. YOU SHOULD TRY EVERYTHING ELSE FIRST, BEFORE RESORTING TO ANY KIND OF DRUGS. SORRY TO SAY BUT OFTEN DRUGS ARE USED BY MANY AS A QUICK ANSWER, TO AN UNWILLINGNESS TO MAKE MANY LIFESTYLE CHANGES, THAT WOULD SOLVE THE HIGH BLOOD-PRESSURE PROBLEM.
NOW HERE IS ONE INEXPENSIVE WAY THAT HELPS KEEP YOUR ARTERIES CLEAN. WHEN MY DAD RETIRED AT 63 AND CAME TO CANADA; THE FIRST YEAR HERE, HE READ AN ARTICLE IN A LOCAL PAPER BY SOME DOCTOR, WHO SAID IF YOU TAKE ONE LECITHIN TABLET A DAY, IT WILL KEEP YOUR ARTERIES CLEAN. MY DAD STARTED TO DO SO IMMEDIATELY. AND HE STILL DOES AT AGE 94 COME AUGUST 2014.
HE PACKED UP AND WENT BACK TO WALES AT AGE 85, THINKING HE'D FINISH HIS DAYS IN THE VILLAGE WHERE WE ARE FROM. HE WAS IN A CLINIC GETTING A HEALTH TEST. THERE WERE PEOPLE LAYING ON SMALL BEDS WITH TUBES IN THEM. THEY TOOK A BLOOD SAMPLE. THEY CAME OUT AND ASKED HIM IF HE HAD EVER HAD A "WASH OUT" - HE REPLIED NO. THEY CAME AGAIN THE SECOND TIME AND ASKED HIM THE SAME QUESTION. HE AGAIN REPLIED NO. THEY CAME OUT THE THIRD TIME AND ASKED HIM, "ARE YOU SURE MR. HUNT YOU HAVE NEVER HAD A WASH OUT?" MY DAD'S REPLY WAS "IS THIS WHAT THESE PEOPLE ARE HAVING LYING HERE WITH TUBES IN THEM?" THE NURSE SAID YES.
"I HAVE NEVER HAD ANYTHING LIKE THIS EVER."
"WELL MR. HUNT," SAID THE NURSE, "WE HAVE NEVER EVER SEEN ANYONE YOUR AGE WITH SUCH CLEAN ARTERIES. WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING?"
I'VE ALREADY TOLD YOU WHAT HE HAD BEEN DOING SINCE HE WAS 63 YEARS OLD.
HE RETURNED TO CANADA.
MY DAD HAS ALWAYS BEEN HEALTH MINDED; ATE A BASIC GOOD DIET [OVERDID SOME THINGS BECAUSE HE GAINED A BELLY ON HIM THAT WAS TOO LARGE]; DID REGULAR EXERCISE IN MANY DIFFERENT WAYS; AND WAS WITHOUT MUCH STRESS ALL OF HIS LIFE.
HIS TOO LARGE A BELLY, FINALLY CAUGHT UP ON HIM, BUT NOT UNTIL HE WAS 90 YEARS OLD; THEN HAD A MINOR STROKE, WHICH HAS LEFT HIM IN A WHEEL CHAIR, AND A SHORT TIME MEMORY THAT IS ALL OVER THE MAP. HE IS NOW IN A 24/7 CARE FACILITY. I MAKE SURE HE GETS HIS VITAMINS AND MINERALS, AND INDEED HIS LECITHIN TABLET. HE HAS LOST HIS BELLY, AND SO FAR DOING FINE. SURE IN YOUR 90s YOU NEVER KNOW WHEN YOUR TIME IS UP, BUT SO FAR HE TELLS ME HE'D LIKE TO LIVE TO BE 100. I TELL HIM HE MAY JUST DO SO.
TO BE CONTINUED