Aha Fitness

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Attacking Heart Disease

on January 29, 2013

February is Heart Health Awareness month.  Sadly, we are familiar by now with the heart-breaking statistics:  Cardiovascular Disease is the number one cause of death globally; one in every 3 deaths in the U.S. is caused by CD or stroke, and 2,200 people die from heart disease every day (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs317/en/index.html).   What makes these numbers even more depressing is that Heart Disease is largely preventable.  We know that lifestyle factors like smoking, poor diet, and lack of exercise are what make people get heart disease.  The good news?  Change your eating and exercise habits and you can prevent yourself from becoming a victim of the number one cause of death.

Now, here is where it gets controversial.  First off, I am glad that the U.S. decided to coin February as a month where we bring awareness that cardiovascular disease is a serious epidemic.  My concern, however, is how the general medical establishment recommends we go about preventing and treating the disease.

Remember, I am the Aha! girl.  I am all about using smart science and analysis to find out what works for people, and if we look at our nation as a collective, something is not right.  The public continues to receive information on “the right way to eat and exercise” yet obesity and Heart Disease continue to rise.   The big question is does the general recommendation for preventing and treating Heart Disease work for everyone?

Please forgive me if it sounds like I am criticizing our American medical establishment.  Actually, I am very grateful for the AMA.  Because of modern medicine, other fatal epidemics such as tuberculosis, polio, and typhoid fever have been eradicated.  I am strongly suggesting, however, that the AMA needs to reexamine their “cure” for the Heart Disease epidemic. Instead of continuing to give the same information on how to end Heart Disease and seeing the public’s nonadherence as the problem, they need to go back and confirm their recommendations are appropriate.  I hope they consider we Americans are not just indifferent and lazy; at least, not when it comes to life and death, and especially not when it comes to the life and health of our children.  I wish they would consider that maybe there is something inherently incorrect about the mantra of low-fat, whole-grains, and just get on the treadmill more.  They keep telling people to do it, and it simply IS NOT WORKING.

Maybe it does work in the chemistry lab.  Maybe without the complexities of a human life (or the human body for that matter) the hypotheses prove correct.  But here is an analogy:  a teacher gives a test and most of the class fails (Let’s say 1/3 of the class since that is the number of obese people in the U.S.).  Now, who is to blame?  Is it more likely that 1/3 of the class is too dumb or too lazy to pass the test?  Or, could there be something unsuitable about the test?   Is it that we as a society are just too dumb and lazy or is it that the information we are being given is wrong or at the very least, just not plausible to follow?

There are two ways you can practice Heart Health Awareness this month.  One way is you could completely disagree with what I am saying.  You can continue to try to do what all the experts say.  If this works for you–great.  Really, that is great.  If it hasn’t been working for you though, consider that the best predictor of the future is the past and the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

Another option is you could be open to the possibility that what I am saying may be true.  You could start educating yourself more on the history of Heart Disease.  You could find out when it began and what people were eating and doing for exercise before and after it started to get bad.  Then, find out what people were eating and doing for exercise when it really got bad.  You could read books that perhaps counter what the mainstream is saying.  (Remember, the best scientist looks for what will refute their hypothesis, not what supports it).  Then, when you have empowered yourself with knowledge, you can stop following advice “just because you should” and commit to taking care of yourself in a way that you know in your heart is best for you.

As the Aha! girl, I leave it up to you.  I believe you know your body, heart, and life better than anyone.  I would love to know your thoughts on attacking Heart Disease.  What will you do this month to take care of your own heart?  Please share your comments below:

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