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How do the Majority of Heart Attacks Occur?
Because heart disease is called "the silent killer," many patients aren't aware that they have cardiovascular disease until they experience chest pain or have their first heart attack. In fact, 64% of women and 50% of men who have suffered a major cardiac event had no previous symptoms. Over 30% of these (first heart attacks) are fatal, making the first symptom of heart disease the last. This is very common since clinical symptoms are not felt until the disease has progressed significantly.
Everyone who has ever eaten the typical American diet has heart disease, even when some test results are considered "normal." By the time symptoms are felt, arteries may be blocked 75% or more. Many diagnostic tools aren't an accurate means of assessing your risk for heart disease because they don't detect artery blockage until the blockage is quite significant. (The heart treadmill test is one example.) The gradual clogging, hardening, loss of endothelial function and inflammation of the interior walls of the arteries goes by unnoticed for many years until symptoms develop. This gradual clogging has been taking place since childhood. Autopsies on the arteries of children as young as 3 years of age show the beginning stages of heart disease. By age 10, nearly 100% of children have atherosclerotic plaque formations.
In the video below, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn addresses how the majority of heart attacks occur. This will really surprise you. When we hear the news of someone who has had a heart attack, we immediately think of them having narrowed blockages in the arteries of their heart. However, the majority of heart attacks do not occur in the narrowed blockages in the coronary arteries. Coronary arteries with significant blockages account for only a small percentage (approximately 10%) of heart attacks. This plaque has had time to solidify since it has taken years and decades to form. As a result, "collateral" vessels have had time to grow. These vessels branch off of the main coronary arteries, providing necessary blood flow to that particular area of the heart muscle.
The greatest percentage of heart attacks (80-90%) occur when newly formed plaques on the inside of our arteries, rupture; causing a clot to form, blocking the flow of blood. The human body contains 60,000-100,000 miles of blood vessels; all of which contain these newly formed, highly unstable, volatile plaques. You can see how many opportunities there are for one of them to rupture, causing a fatal clot. Anyone eating a diet where the majority of calories come from animal products and processed foods has these unstable plaques throughout their entire vascular system.
When plaque begins to develop on the inside walls of the blood vessels, the walls are pushed outward. This maintains the lumen (inner open space) and normal blood flow. Because these plaques don't obstruct the inner opening, they are not visible and cannot be detected using diagnostic tools such as angiography or stress tests. Dr. Joel Fuhrman says that these plaques are the most vulnerable and very lethal. Dr. John McDougall adds that the reason why surgeons operate on the larger heart vessels is because "they can." The reason why they don't operate on the smaller, undetected plaques is because "they can't." They cannot operate on unseen, smaller, undetected plaques that have accumulated on the inside of the thousands of miles of blood vessels throughout the entire body.
The force of the blood pumping with each heartbeat can easily tear the cap from these fragile plaques, causing them to rupture and form a fatal clot. An animal-based, low-nutrient, fiber-deficient diet doesn't protect this from occurring, whereas a whole-food, nutrient-dense, plant-based diet does. This short animated video clip gives us a glimpse of what it looks like from the inside of a blood vessel as the rupture occurs.
This is the main reason why bypass surgery and stents do not save lives or prevent future cardiac events. The majority of the disease is still left untreated. Your cardiologist will most likely not discuss these facts with you. What they will discuss however is a treatment plan which involves a risky major surgical procedure and a life-time dependency upon drugs. Drugs and procedures offer quick fixes by minimizing the symptoms and risk factors of disease, yet they offer little value for dietary-induced illnesses since they do not treat the underlying cause of disease. Sadly, medical care using drugs and procedures is the third leading cause of death in the United States. Additionally, because the majority of doctors have had little or no training in nutritional medicine, they are not trained to offer any advice on how to prevent and reverse heart disease using an aggressive nutritional approach. Most importantly, as Dr. Esselstyn points out in the video, relieving angina (chest pain) and becoming "heart attack proof" can occur in as little as three weeks when using an aggressive nutritional approach. See how using diet instead of bypass reversed Shelia Lewis' blocked coronary arteries - click here.
Eighty-one million Americans suffer from cardiovascular disease killing one out of every three people or 831,000 each year. It's our nation's leading cause of death for both men and women, resulting in a heart attack every 34 seconds. Protect yourself and your family from being a statistic by adopting a diet which supports optimal cardiovascular health.
Food is powerful medicine with no harmful side effects. Every meal we consume affects our health either in a positive or negative way. If our diets consist mainly of heavily processed foods and animal products, rich in saturated fats, oils, salt and sugar, we are creating an environment that encourages chronic degenerative disease. However, by giving our bodies superior nutrition, we can avoid food addictions, encourage longevity, and support an immune system that resists disease. Disease prevention and reversal begins with your first bite!
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(24) Seeing is Believing!