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Some of the Causes                                                              Heart Disease | Cancer |  Stroke

topdisease High Blood Pressure | Arteriosclerosis Atherosclerosis | Cholesterol

High Blood Pressure : About one-third of us in the United States have high blood pressure. Men have more hypertension than women through middle age, but women surpass men afterward.

A devious killer, it works silently against us. High blood pressure causes your blood vessels to degenerate, your heart muscle to thicken, your kidneys to scar and shrink, your retina of your eyes may become damaged and worse still, the blood vessels in your brain may leak, clot or burst. This disease is dangerous and can threaten your life with no apparent warning signs. It raises your chances of heart disease, stroke and kidney problems.

The force exerted by your blood exerted against the walls of your blood vessels is your blood pressure. It is your blood pressure, which forces oxygen and food (plasma carrying sugar, amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals) into your tissues through porous microscopic capillary walls. This is why normal blood pressure is vital to the nutrition of your cells. With each heartbeat, a fresh spurt of blood is forced into your arteries, temporarily increasing the pressure against their walls. This "systolic" pressure, which is the first or top number of your blood pressure reading, describes your heart's force and is normally 120 - 140 millimeters. "Diastolic" pressure is the tension between your heartbeats. It is naturally lower when your heart is resting and is normally 80 - 90 mm. Pressure above these numbers is considered high blood pressure.

Eating large amounts of produce may produce a drop in high blood pressure by altering your blood chemistry. A healthy diet low in fat and high in fruits and vegetables lowers blood levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that is thought to raise the risk of heart disease. This can lower your blood pressure by as much as 9 percent.

Low dietary intake of potassium can also contribute to high blood pressure. Again, this mineral is bountiful in fruits, beans, vegetables and lean meats. Potassium deficiency can be caused by an excess sodium intake however. Experts say you should limit your sodium intake. Processed foods are full of salt so it's important to cut back on them as well. Lunch meats, canned foods, processed cheese, and so on. A variety of fresh fruits and vegetables will give you an optimized ratio of potassium to sodium. Especially good for this purpose are apricots, avocados, bananas, broccoli, brussel sprouts, fish, grapefruit, mushrooms, potatoes, spinach, and tofu.

Even if your blood pressure is just a little high one of your health priorities should be to lower it. Studies reveal that having a systolic pressure of 120 to 139 mm Hg or a diastolic pressure of 80 to 89 mm Hg (prehypertension) may increase a person's risk of cardiovascular disease by as much as 32%.

Take control of your blood pressure with a varied diet that includes fish, poultry, nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and low-fat dairy, also minimize your consumption of red meat, saturated fat, sweets, and if you are salt-sensitive - sodium. Exercising regularly and practicing relaxation techniques can also help reduce high blood pressure.

Arteriosclerosis, also known as hardening of the arteries, produced by aging, leads to aneurysms, blood clots, and strokes. Arteriosclerosis is a general term for diseases of the cardiovascular system. Arterial walls become thick and lose their elasticity. When they cannot dilate and constrict fully, blood clots are likely to occur. (See recommendation below)

Atherosclerosis is a related condition, diet-based, and believed to lead to over a million heart attacks each year as well as other problems. Caused by deposits of cholesterol and other fatty substances accumulating on the walls of your arteries, blockages are created. Platelets may begin to adhere to these substances, known as plaque, further hindering your blood flow. When plaque clogs the coronary arteries and the carotid artery (supplying blood to your brain) serious dangers result. It is possible for an artery to be 90% blocked prior to symptoms appearing.

With a diet based on whole grains and fruits and vegetables in conjunction with mild daily exercise, nearly everyone can expect significant vascular renewal within a few weeks. In fact, reports state that most by-pass operations would be unnecessary with as few as 30 days on a high-fiber, low-fat diet. Other research indicates 97% of those on high blood pressure medication would no longer need it after simple dietary changes like these.

Cholesterol clogging your arteries slows your blood flow. Cholesterol is formed in your body into lipoproteins. There are two kinds. Low-density lipoprotein, LDL, which causes all sorts of problems when it builds up, and high-density lipoprotein, HDL, which keeps our arteries open, clean and healthy.

LDL takes cholesterol where it's needed. HDL takes excess cholesterol to the liver for disposal. Problems arise when LDL builds up and stick to your artery walls, which makes it harder and harder for HDL to remove.

A build up of LDL can be caused by heredity but it can also be caused from eating too much cholesterol rich foods such as meats, liver, processed foods, and saturated fats such as in butter, animal fat, shortening, palm oil, coconut oil, etc. Unsaturated fats from foods such as nuts and seeds, can promote the production of HDL or at least keep build up of LDL at a minimum. Polyunsaturated fats, from safflower, corn, soybean and sunflower oils and margarines, lower both the bad LDL and the good HDL. Monounsaturated fats, such as canola, peanut, and olive oils, only lower bad LDL leaving the good HDL intact.

Cholesterol levels are a direct measure of heart disease. If you lower your serum cholesterol by 1%, you reduce your risk of heart attack by 2%. A total cholesterol count of less than 200 mg/dl (milligrams of cholesterol per deciliter of blood) is desirable. 240 and you are at twice the risk of heart attack or stroke, in between 200 and 240 and you are at an intermediate risk. Serum cholesterol tests indicate LDL and HDL counts. The lower the LDL count the better (130 mg/dl or less). HDL is different for men and women. Men should range between 40 and 50 mg/dl and women, 50 and 60 mg/dl. Anything less than 35 mg/dl may increase your risk of heart disease.

Oxidation, a kind of rapidly progressing rancidity, on artery walls is caused by toxic free radicals Antioxidants are believed to neutralize these free radicals and thus fight the oxidation process. The most well know antioxidant for heart health is vitamin E. The natural whole food sources of vitamin E are olive, canola and safflower oils; sunflower seeds; wheat germ; whole grain breads, rice, cereals; green leafy vegetables and all types of fish and shell fish.

Vitamin C helps vitamin E from becoming oxidized itself. These vitamins together not only fight oxidation but may also lower blood pressure. High blood pressure can damage artery walls creating rough patches that may attract plaque.

Paying attention to your diet is crucial. Lower your fat intake, making sure the fats you do eat are the healthy monounsaturated. Load up on fruits and vegetables. Eat some seeds and nuts. Eat plenty of fiber - soluble fiber like oats and brown rice, which blocks fat absorption in the intestines, and insoluble fiber like whole wheat foods and wheat bran, which helps fill you up and keep your weight down. Vegetal foods contain no cholesterol and are generally low in saturated fat.

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