Heart health and nutrition

My 39 year old step son had a massive heart attack this week. The left anterior descending portion of his coronary artery was 100% blocked by plaque, and another portion is 40% blocked by plaque. The coronary arteries supply your heart with oxygenated blood, thus allowing it to function, when blocked your heart no longer pumps properly, if at all, thus causing a heart attack. These sorts of things can easily kill you. Thankfully, my step son made it to the hospital where they were able to diagnose the blockage, clear it and place a stent in the artery so it stays open. He left the hospital 4 days later. Very lucky to be alive.

My husband had a diagnostic angiogram 7 years ago, while they did discover some plaque build up in his coronary artery, is was limited to only 20-30% and the doctors reassured us that that degree of build-up was normal for his age (58 at the time), we were told that they would monitor it through ultrasound for growth. However, having plaque deposits does show that my husband is a builder and going forward should be careful with his diet in order to prevent the existing build up from growing and becoming a problem. It just so happens my hubby had such a ultrasound last week, and his build up has not grown at all over the last 7 years!! I’m just going to go ahead and take all the credit for that!!

All of this got me thinking: How can someone so young have so much build up? Turns out, after doing a little research, in the last 5 years men between the ages of 30 and 40 are the having more heart attacks than ever before!! In one study, researchers autopsied 2700 people between the ages of 15 and 50, all of whom died from something other than heart disease. They found that boys as young as 15, with no family history of heart disease, had early stages of atherosclerosis (arterial plague). Heart Disease is no longer a condition for older people.


Things that put you at higher risks for heart attacks include conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, being over weight, smoking, sedentary lifestyle, diabetic, etc. Even if you work out every day, doing lots of cardiovascular exercise and strength training most days, and have never smoked, but still eat a diet high in saturated fats, fatty meats, sodium and refined carbohydrates, you’re at the same risk of having a heart attack as someone who eats the same diet but does nothing all day. You’re daily nutrition is that important.


Eat real foods in moderate amounts. The basic rules that apply to a normal person who is trying to be healthy can also be applied to an individual with a heart condition. Always check with your cardiologist and cardiac rehab nutrition specialist for specific instructions. Most heart specialist recommend the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. This reduces sodium, trans fat and cholesterol from the diet. You can find the details here: https://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/The-American-Heart-Associations-Diet-and-Lifestyle-Recommendations_UCM_305855_Article.jsp

making healthy choices

See my list of rules to follow here: https://rulesbyred.com/2016/05/rules-for-eating-healthy/

Use MyFitnessPal to track your daily nutrition values, as well as monitor your progress

If you smoke, stop. If you need help quitting, see your doctor. These days they are many tools available to assist you.

Set a good example for your kids. If you or a family member has heart issues, there’s a good chance your children could develop those same issues. Help them avoid long term damage by changing their habits now! You can start by providing them with a good example to follow and involving them in the process of changing to a healthier lifestyle for the whole family. Eat as a family; several studies show that kids who sit down with family most nights weigh less then those who don’t. Eating together also provides a great opportunity for unhurried conversations.

Be active. Even if it’s as simple as parking a little farther away, or taking the stairs. Start taking family walks together.  Make a concentrated effort to move more.

more information

The Weight of the Nation – a look at the obesity epidemic

Skinny Taste – great recipes



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