Fifty-year-old Richard was the picture of health and a model citizen, a family man who was loved by his kids, his church and his community. However, his influence abruptly ceased one Sunday morning when, without warning, he just dropped dead. As the family made funeral arrangements, they awaited a report concerning the mysterious cause of death. The verdict soon came in: heart attack.
Richard had become the latest victim of the leading cause of death in Western nations, CAD (Coronary Artery Disease). Unfortunately, this sad story is far too common. Even more frightening is the fact that for 30% of those with CAD, the first sign of the disease is sudden death! However, scientific evidence reveals you don’t have to suffer the same fate. This pamphlet is dedicated to teaching you about CAD and explaining how you can avoid or reverse it!
What is Coronary Artery Disease?
CAD is caused by damage to the lining of the coronary arteries, the small blood vessels which supply blood to the heart. Once damaged that lining becomes vulnerable to hardening (atherosclerosis), narrowing (from plaque buildup), and ultimately complete blockage. When blood flow to the heart is decreased, the person may experience pain (angina). If a vessel becomes completely blocked, the tissue receiving blood beyond the point of blockage dies. If the area that dies is large enough, the person’s heart may no longer effectively pump blood, dooming the individual to a life of reduced energy and capacity. Still greater damage may result in death. However, even small heart attacks may be fatal. Damaged heart muscle is prone to abnormal rhythms. These “dysrhythmias” are often the underlying cause of sudden death.
Causes of Damage
-Smoking directly damages the coronary arteries predisposing them to spasms and plaque buildup. (Smokers are also more prone to fatal rhythm problems if they have a heart attack.)
-High blood pressure further damages the coronary arteries accelerating the build-up of blockages.
-High cholesterol causes inflammation of the arteries, another factor leading to plaque buildup.
-The elevated blood sugars of diabetes further accelerate the process of atherosclerosis (fatty buildup in the arteries).
-Sedentary lifestyle (inactivity) contributes to the disease process by elevating blood pressure, worsening blood fats, and elevating blood sugar.
Coronary Artery Disease can be stopped and even reversed, and this can occur quite rapidly.
World War II led to a terrible loss of life, but it also provided insights into influencing the CAD process. The horrors and demands of war often caused changes in dietary practices. Some European nations were forced to subsist on plant based foods rather than their pre-war diets that were rich in flesh foods and dairy. Those countries experienced a dramatic decrease in heart disease.
In 1990, Dr. Dean Ornish and his colleagues showed that such a plant-rich diet could be used as part of a comprehensive program to reduce blockages in heart blood vessels. In addition to eating a vegetarian diet, Ornish’s subjects stopped smoking, exercised regularly, practiced stress management techniques and engaged in group support. You, too can expereince these benefits. Here’s how:
A smoke free lifestyle: If you are a smoker, the most important thing you can do to lengthen your life and prevent CAD, is to stop smoking. In addition to decreasing your risk of CAD—and lessening your risk of death even if you have a heart attack—smoking cessation will decrease your risk of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and osteoporosis. It will even help your skin stay more youthful!
An active life: With exercise, your heart muscle strengthens. Furthermore, exercise decreases triglyceride levels (a blood fat that contributes to heart artery blockage) and improves HDL (sometimes called “good cholesterol”). HDL is a fascinating compound. It actually removes cholesterol from blockages in your arteries! As already mentioned, exercise also helps lower blood sugar and blood pressure.
All told, active individuals have a 45% decreased risk of developing heart disease. A good goal for many people is to exercise 30 minutes a day, and it doesn’t need to be all at once. As little as 5 or 10 minutes at a time, spread out throughout the day, can start the healing process. Walking, swimming, gardening and yard work are all excellent exercises. Remember, it’s best to check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
A life based on trust in God: It might surprise you, but research on the mummies of Egyptian nobles revealed they died from many of the same diseases we in Western nations currently die from. Those diseases include CAD, which is believed to be the cause of death of the famed Ramses the Great.
What’s even more fascinating is the story of how God led the Israelites out of Egypt and away from those Egyptian diseases. The plant-based diet advocated in the first chapter of the ancient Hebrew Scriptures (Genesis 1:29) we have already learned seems calculated to stop and reverse CAD.
When God led Israel out of Egypt, He also provided a plant based diet of “manna” (“the corn of heaven” Ps. 78:24), as well as water to drink (Exodus 17:6). There was a built-in exercise program, for they walked to the Promised Land. God promised that if the Hebrews followed this plan, they would experience none of the diseases of the Egyptians (See Exodus 15:26). Later Daniel the prophet followed a similar plan (Daniel 1:11-12), which brought health and longevity to him and his friends. In just ten days’ time, in what the New England Journal of Medicine called the oldest scientific study, Daniel and his compatriots showed measurable benefits (Daniel 1:15). Within three years, this lifestyle also improved their mental faculties (Daniel 1:20).
Such results shouldn’t be surprising. Over 3,200 scientific studies now bear witness to the positive impact of religion and spirituality on health. A recent review of these studies found that, “there is no medical condition that religion and spirituality is more likely to influence than cardio vascular disease.”