A new paradigm for heart disease prevention
According to World Health Organization’s latest “Top 10 causes of death” fact sheet, Ischemic heart disease is the leading cause of mortality followed by stroke, accounting for a combined 15 million deaths in 2015.
While the data remain unchanged, a relatively new way of preventing the disease is being advocated by cardiologists. Health experts are favoring a diet based on moderation and sustainability over a diet that completely eliminates fat.
“The change in thinking was brought about by the fact that a good proportion of the American population became more obese and unhealthy despite heavy promotions and endorsement of low fat diet. Cardiovascular disease remained one of the top causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide,” explains Dr. Gino Quizon, interventional cardiologist at ManilaMed.
He continues, “But I do hope it will not give the wrong perception that we can now eat all the fatty foods we want.” Dr. Quizon suggests cutting down on saturated fats, carbohydrates, and sugars.
So how should we eat under the new paradigm? Dr. Quizon says “moderation is key.”
“The 2016 European Guidelines on Cardiovascular Disease Prevention recommends a low saturated fat diet with focus on wholegrain products, fish, fruits, and vegetables. And a recent study published just last February 20 concludes that a low fat diet is comparable to a low carbohydrate diet in a 12-month study period,” he shares.
Ultimately heart disease is still a lifestyle disease that is caused by bad dietary and lifestyle choices rather than pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, and fungus.
“The risk of acquiring hypertension, heart attack or stroke certainly is higher if we have it in our genes. However, it does not automatically mean we are doomed if we have it in our blood,” emphasizes Dr. Quizon. “There are other risk factors, which are modifiable that we can address, such as cigarette smoking, alcohol intake, blood pressure, and sugar and cholesterol control. And stress management.”
“Addressing all other risk factors would offset and prevent a cardiovascular event.”
But when heart disease does strike, medical science offers a number of innovations to improve prognosis.
“Majority of structural and coronary artery disease interventions can now be done percutaneously. We can now repair coronary artery and peripheral artery blockages, fix congenital holes or defects, coil aneurysms, and repair valvular diseases without the need for major surgery,” says Dr. Quizon.
Even the materials they use, the cardiologist says, have evolved and have been updated to provide better care and outcomes. A prime example of improvement is the angioplasty, according to Dr. Quizon.
“The major advantage of angioplasty is it is done percutaneously, the patient doesn’t need to be opened up. Also the recovery period is faster, and outcomes are relatively similar to bypass.”
“However in cases of severe three vessel disease, or those that involve the root of the left coronary circulation (left main artery), bypass surgery is still recommended,” clarifies Dr. Quizon.