Ischemic heart disease is the proper medical term for reduced blood flow to the heart – it is ultimately caused by hardened or blocked arteries, and it is the number one cause of death in most western countries.
From the time people are very young, as young as five years old, they can start developing tissue deposits, called plaque, in the lining of their arteries. For many people, these deposits never cause trouble. For others, the deposits can grow, harden, and eventually cause death. The growth of these tissues is called arteriosclerosis.
As these tissues grow, the arteries will enlarge some to try and accommodate blood flow. However, if the blob of plaque ruptures, the particles clog blood passages causing a heart attack or stroke, in the worst cases.
Please, Pass On The Fats
Scientists know what causes ischemic heart disease: a fatty diet, inaction, and smoking. While smoking is certainly not limited to rich countries, a fatty diet and inaction are luxuries of middle- and upper-class populations.
In Europe and the United States, calories are cheap and plentiful. For an hour’s wage, a person can buy a meal containing a pound of meat. However, in some countries, a pound of meat is a treat to be divided within one family once a month. No doctor recommends either extreme of poor or rich food, but rather, everyone needs a healthy, balanced, but lean diet to prevent ischemic heart disease.
However, some doctors have an idea about using peer pressure to make westerners make themselves healthier. Thirty years ago, few Americans wore seatbelts. And many more smoked cigarettes than do now. Laws played a part in changing behavior, but in both of these cases, peer pressure really started the trend. And many scientists, nutritionists, and activists, worried about ischemic heart disease, are trying to repeat the trend for healthier diets.
And this power of healthy suggestion seems to be working on restaurants. Especially since 2004, fast food chains have started to offer healthier menu choices such as yogurt, salads, and fruit. Many restaurants now print some nutrition information on their menus and offer specifically “heart-smart” recipes.
But the question is will people take advantage of healthier menus, city recreation departments, and fresh vegetables at the grocery store? So far, it does not seem so. Some scientists predict that 75% of all Americans will be overweight by 2008. Yet extra weight and the bad diet and inactivity that usually accompany it are causing an epidemic of ischemic heart disease.