According to the American Heart Association 2004 data, it is estimated that 79,400,000 American adults, approximately 1 in 3, had some form of cardiovascular disease (CVD). These CVDs include hypertension, stroke, and coronary heart disease, including angina pectoris and myocardial infarction. Individually, 72,000,000 people had hypertension; 7,900,000 suffered from acute myocardial infarction; 8,900,000 people experienced angina pectoris; 5,200,000 had heart failure, and 5,600,000 had strokes.1 In 2004, CVD was the underlying cause of death in 36.3% of deaths, or 1 in every 2.8 deaths, with over 147,000 deaths in Americans under age 65.2
It is not only an equal-opportunity killer for both men and women, it also decreases quality of life. The heart beats 103,680 times a day for a person with a pulse of 72 beats per minute. Even more amazing is the fact that the human body is comprised of 75 trillion cells that are nourished by 60,000 miles of blood vessels. Indeed, any given cell in the body is no further than 1=500 of an inch from its own personal blood supply. Cardiovascular diseases represent one of the greatest health concerns in modern history. Death from cardiovascular-related disease is estimated to kill 1 person every 33 seconds in the United States. Not limited in prevalence to the United States, diseases of the cardiovascular system affect people across the world, mainly in modernized countries.
The American Heart Association (AHA) identifies increasing age, male gender, and heredity as uncontrollable risk factors for heart disease. Tobacco smoking, high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, physical inactivity, obesity=overweight, and diabetes are modifiable risk factors for heart disease. Other negative risk factors identified by the AHA as contributory to heart disease include stress levels and responses, sex hormones, birth control pills, and excessive alcohol intake.3 Despite the acknowledgment of this problem and intense educational efforts in this country to make people aware of CVD, large numbers of people are continually diagnosed each year in this country and the in rest of the world.
New insights into CVD reveal foci for testing and prevention, other than standard lipid profiles. Testing for homocysteine, C-reactive protein (CRP), and fibrinogen place new emphasis on cardiovascular risk parameters while research into naturally derived medicines provides viable preventative and treatment options for CVD.
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