Heart Disease And Epigenetics

| December 10, 2011 | 1 Comments

After spending a good amount of time researching heart disease statistics on the website for the Center For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), I thought sharing some bitter statistics about heart disease is important.  Several of the surveys are dated and I found no statistics for 2011.

These statistics support the need for donors and organs.  While stem cell research is exciting and is certainly the wave of the future, it’s anybody’s guess when the information in the previous article will actually be an option.

For the time being, it is status quo. But, I did notice that the stem cell patients seemed to have higher ejection fractions than those of us who have qualified for heart transplantation.

Fasten your seatbelts and away we go.

In this report, CDC considers heart disease to be several different types of heart conditions.  According to the CDC, the most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease also called coronary heart disease.

Heart disease remains the leading cause of death for men and women in the U.S.

The  CDC reports that every year, at least 785,000 Americans suffer their first heart attack. 

 Every year, another 470,000 have their second, third or more heart attacks.

 In 2006, deaths due to heart disease were the highest in Mississippi.

 In 2005, 445,687 people died of coronary heart disease.

 In 2010, heart disease cost the United States more than $316.4 billion.  This includes cost of health care services, medicines and lost productivity.

 In 2006, 631,636 Americans died of heart disease.  This constitutes 26% of all deaths in the U.S.

 Lifestyle choices definitely increase the chance of heart diseases.

9 of every 10 Americans have at least one of the following risk factors.

         *  High cholesterol

         *  High blood pressure

  • Diabetes

        *   Cigarette smoking

  • Overweight and obesity

        *   Poor diet

  • Physical inactivity

         *   Use of alcohol

 The CDC reports that persons with heart disease but who lower their cholesterol level and blood pressure levels reduce the risk of: 

  • Dying from heart disease
  • Having a nonfatal heart attack
  • Needing heart bypass surgery

 For persons without heart disease, lowering the cholesterol and reducing their blood pressure are excellent deterrents.

 37 percent of Americans have at least two risk factors.  Risk factors by percentage of risk are: 

          *          Inactivity                      39.5%

          *          Obesity                           33.9%

          *          High Blood Pressure  30.5%

          *          Cigarette smoking        20.8%

          *          High cholesterol            15.6%

          *          Diabetes                            10.1%

 Because many Americans do not understand the warning signs for heart disease, 47% of heart disease deaths die are the result of sudden cardiac arrest outside the hospital.

 Only 27% of Americans recognize the symptoms of heart disease.

I am neither a physician nor a nurse.  I am a parent and grandparent.  I now realize that the best remedy for heart disease is prevention.  My children have seen the effects of heart disease first hand.  However, every now and then it does not hurt to spread the word.

If you should take preventive action, this is the time to act.  Throw out the cigarettes, toss the salt and only drink in moderation.  Exercise every day.  Eat sensibly.  Make regular appointments for check-ups. Genetics are genetics. 

I recently became familiar with a concept that originated with Aristotle.  The theory was dormant for a long period before being revitalized in the mid 19th century.  Epigenetics applies to more than heart disease.


The concept has many merits.  The standard bearer for epigenetics is Bruce H. Lipton, a well known cell biologist.  Lipton is a former professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and a researcher at Stanford University.

You cannot control your genes, but you can change the environment so that you are heart healthy.  Epigenetics applies to many aspects of life.  Lipton has been involved in extensive research that the environment in which we live is more medically significant than our genealogy.

Lipton goes further.  In proving the epigenetic concept, Lipton cites many examples of adopted children submitting to their environment rather than to the genes of the biological parents.  In its simplest form, if we are raised in the house of smokers, we will probably smoke. If we get accustomed to poor diet, we will continue with unhealthy and unwise diet.

At first, I wasn’t sure about epigenetics. In my case, I have two siblings with heart disease and two parents and one grandparent that died of heart disease.  My mother’s mother had a crippling stroke.  My mother also had a serious stroke a few years before she died of cardiac arrest.

Clearly, I have a genetic link to heart disease.  However, I also have an environmental link to heart disease and to the risks of heart disease.  After much consideration, I now agree with Dr. Lipton.   Despite my genetic link to heart disease, my heart problems were caused by myself through the lifestyle choices I have made.

I do not regret my genes.  I do regret a foolish lifestyle that I once embraced.  Hey, we cannot fix the heart disease epidemic.  What we can do is create a heart healthy environment.  Throw away the cigarettes.  Toss the salt.  Drink safely.  Exercise every day. Schedule regular checkups with your physician.

These are some of the preventive tools that will protect you family and your friends.  If they are not listening, lead by example.  Go for it, always!      


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1 Comment on "Heart Disease And Epigenetics"

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  1. Lisa says:

    Difficult to know exact heart disease type because people at a time affect various type of heart disease. It is also difficult to diagnosis, once proper diagnosis the treatment process will be easy for doctor as well as patient.

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