Heart Disease - lets make it go away
Heart disease and stroke are the two most important causes of serious illness and premature death in Western society. The aim of this book is to help you reduce your chances of suffering heart disease or stroke, and to advocate a way of life that will combine health, longevity and happiness.
We start by looking at how the heart works and what causes angina, heart attack and stroke. An understanding of the causes of heart disease and the intelligent application of preventive measures could, I believe, lead to the virtual elimination of heart disease and stroke, at least for people under sixty-five or seventy years old.
Major factors in the present epidemic of heart disease are explored. These include lack of exercise, an unbalanced diet, cigarette smoking, excessive alcohol consump¬tion and high stress levels. Advice on how to overcome these factors, if followed, could also help to eliminate many other non-cardiac conditions and play a major role in reducing psychiatric illness and premature ageing.
It is obvious that most people in our society do not anticipate illness, no matter how much they may neglect themselves and their health. If they become ill they confidently assume that doctors and medical science will come to their rescue. Yet we know that few of our contemporary chronic diseases can be cured and in most cases we can only expect temporary alleviation through drugs and surgery.
Instead of relying on drugs or surgery to maintain a healthy community, we should adopt more natural means to restore and maintain good health. The benefits of exercise, a natural diet, creative and active occupation and, most of all, knowledge based on good psychological, social and medical insights, are all-important if we are to create a disease-free world.
We believe that all the common illnesses of our time are due to the environment in which we live and to our adaptation to it. Pavlov, the great Russian physiologist, defined health as a state of being in equilibrium with surrounding nature. I believe that if you adapt your habits and behaviour to your environment you are assured of a healthier, longer and better life. This is what this book is all about.
If you have already suffered from a heart attack or stroke you can also benefit by appropriate life-style changes. Furthermore, if you adopt a better way of life you may well be healthier and happier after your illness than before.
Marathon runs such as this are non-competitive and carefully graded. Physical fitness can help prevent heart disease and bring much happiness.
Begin by looking at the way you regard your own health. Many people think it is the doctor's job to keep them healthy. But look at it another way and it becomes obvious that we all need to become active participants in maintaining our own good health. This responsible approach is particularly feasible in the prevention of heart disease and stroke — the two great killers of modern times — since their causes are predictable and largely preventable.
Most of the great epidemic diseases of the past have been overcome by social and cultural changes and by public preventive measures, rather than through the direct application of medical knowledge. This is true of cholera, tuberculosis, poliomyelitis and most of the infectious diseases. It could also be true of heart disease and stroke.
If you have had a heart attack or a stroke medical science can help to patch you up, but the contribution from physicians and surgeons is trivial compared to the contribution which could be made by adopting a more healthy way of life.
Some people, including doctors, are still sceptical that a particular way of life can influence the present epidemic of coronary disease and stroke. In this context it is worth looking at the statistics for heart disease and stroke in Western society and noting the changes that are taking place. These show that a fall in the frequency of heart disease and stroke in certain countries can be largely attributed to life-style changes brought about by public-health education and by individuals acting for their own good.
The pattern of heart disease
More than 80 per cent of adult heart disease in Western countries is caused by an obstructive disease of the coronary arteries called atherosclerosis. This silting-up process is explained in chapter three. In many countries, coronary disease causes as much as 40 per cent of all deaths; in men during their active years (under sixty years) it causes 50 per cent or more deaths.
Heart disease and stroke are the two most important causes of serious illness and premature death in Western society. The aim of this book is to help you reduce your chances of suffering heart disease or stroke, and to advocate a way of life that will combine health, longevity and happiness. more