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Healthy Heart Reports

Preventing Heart Attacks

An article in JAMA shows that the earlier a heart attack victim starts taking drugs to lower cholesterol, the less likely he is to have another heart attack. This agrees with previous studies showing that high blood levels of the bad LDL cholesterol cause heart attacks.

In 1975 Dr. Robert Wissler of the University of Chicago showed that arteriosclerotic plaques can be removed from arteries by lowering cholesterol severely. Since that time, more than 1000 papers show that arteriosclerosis is reversible provided that you stop doing the things that caused the plaques to form in the first place. Nobody should wait for a heart attack. Everyone should have blood cholesterol measurements and each person who has high blood LDL cholesterol levels should be put on a cholesterol-lowering diet immediately.

Most people do not need to take drugs to lower cholesterol. Cholesterol is raised by eating too much saturated and partially hydrogenated fats; too little fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, seeds and nuts; not exercising; smoking; not eating enough omega-3 fatty acids in whole grains, beans seeds, nuts and deep water fish; or eating too many calories. No diet will lower cholesterol if you take in more calories than you burn. You should:

1) avoid saturated fats in whole milk diary products, meat, chicken and eggs

2) avoid partially hydrogenated fats found in most margarines, cookies and crackers, bakery products, many breakfast cereals and other packaged foods, and most fast-food restaurant items

3) Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, seeds and nuts

4) Have deep-water seafood 2-3 times a week unless you are vegetarian

5) exercise, and

6) don't smoke.

JAMA, 1/24/01


Copyright 2001
Dr. Mirkin's opinions and the references cited are for information only, and are not intended to diagnose or prescribe. For your specific diagnosis and treatment, consult your doctor or health care provider.

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