Two large-scale clinical studies from Northwestern University School of Medicine actually confirmed that the most important facets of healthcare, such as the no. 1 killer cardiovascular disease, have far more to do with lifestyle than genetics.
The first study evaluated five lifestyle factors: smoking, weight, exercise, diet, and alcohol consumption. More than 2,000 people were recruited for this study. The results showed that healthy lifestyle choices such as not smoking, exercising regularly, and not consuming alcohol excessively dramatically lowered the risk of developing heart disease.
A really important aspect to understand was the more of these lifestyle essentials you addressed, the lower the chance of disease. The risk only decreased by 6 percent for participants who changed just one lifestyle factor such as nutrition, but it decreased by 60 percent (10 times more) for those who made changes to all five lifestyle factors!
“Health behaviors can trump a lot of your genetics,” said Donald Lloyd-Jones, M.D., chair, and professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a staff cardiologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.“ This research shows people have control over their heart health. The earlier they start making healthy choices, the more likely they are to maintain a low-risk profile for heart disease.”
Low levels of vitamin D have again been linked with reduced survival rates in patients with heart failure. The study, conducted at the University Medical Center, Groningen, in the Netherlands, also suggested that low levels of vitamin D are associated with activation of the Renin Angiotensin System (RAS – a pivotal regulatory system in heart failure) and an altered cytokine profile.¹
In this latest study, researchers found that low levels of vitamin D lower your chances of surviving heart failure, and previous studies have found the vitamin can also lower your risk of developing heart disease in the first place. Arterial stiffness, a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke — two of the most common killers in the United States — is also associated with vitamin D deficiency.
Researchers have found that people with the lowest average vitamin D levels had a 124 percent greater risk of dying from all causes and a 378 percent greater risk of dying from a heart problem — so optimizing your levels will keep you out of this risk bracket.² The same study from Finland has also shown that when compared with the participants with the highest vitamin D, those with the lowest levels had a 25 percent higher risk of dying from heart disease or stroke. And when the only stroke was looked at, those with the lowest levels had twice the risk as those with the highest.²
However, if you listen to the government’s recommendations about how much vitamin D you need to stay healthy you’ll likely come up far too short to receive these amazing benefits to your heart. Based on the latest research, many experts now agree you need about 5,000 IU per day for adults and 2500 IU per day for children over the age of 5. That is assuming you have healthy vitamin D levels at the start.
Sunlight is a great way to get Vitamin D. Your ability to convert sunlight into vitamin D is dependent on several factors, such as the color of your skin, where you live, and how much sunshine your skin is exposed to on a regular basis. The trouble is these days – that even in sunny areas like Florida, people aren’t regularly outside during the normal school and workweek. In fact, many technology kids aren’t out on the weekend either. So generally, people need to use a Vitamin D supplement to stay healthy.
The point of the article is that through a comprehensive approach, heart disease should become more of a nominal health challenge than the #1 killer of men and women every year. There are many factors to address when it comes to preventing and overcoming all disease and NOW is the time to start. Not after a diagnosis, a heart attack, or death – that’s late to start looking into it.
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European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress 2010 August 28-September 1, 2010, Stockholm, Sweden¹
Clinical Endocrinology, Volume 71, Number 5, November 2009 , pp. 666-672(7)²