By Philip S. Chua, M.D., FACS, FPCS
Some may already be doing a good job at wrecking their heart, besides other organs in their body, but for the others who may not be as innovative and cunning, here are eight easy and simple ways to accomplish the job more efficiently and effectively.
(1) If you are not a cigarette smoker, start smoking or inhale as much secondhand smoke as possible. If you are, continue this very dangerous and expensive (money-wise and health habit. Out of the 1.3 billion smokers around the world, one dies from smoking every 6.5 seconds. Smoking kills 5.4 million each year. This is projected to rise to 6.5 million by 2015, and 8.3 million by 2030. One billion will die from tobacco use in this century alone. Besides heart disease, smoking causes cancer of the lungs and other organs, besides causing emphysema and air-hunger. Secondhand smoke is no less a brutal killer. People who quit smoking lower their risk of heart disease to the level of nonsmokers in just 2 years, and also protect their loved ones from secondhand smoke.
(2) Binge daily, 3 times a day or more, on saturated animal fats like red meats (pork, beef, processed foods like bacon, hamburgers, ham, hotdogs, sausages, etc), eggs. French fries, junk foods, and foods with trans-fats. Do not eat any vegetables, fruits, nuts, oat meal, bran and other hi-fiber foods, because these lower cholesterol, are good for our immune system, and lower our risk for cancer. Besides, these are health foods, good for our body. They will not damage but protect our heart, colon, brain, kidneys, liver, etc.
(3) Throw away the scale. Just take in all the calories you can grab, especially carbohydrates (rice, bread, cookies, candies, ice cream, sweets, and especially the mega sugar-loaded softy drinks, which I call the ‘liquid candy’). Allow yourself to put on weight. Forget about the gorgeous body curves, ladies. The fatter, the heavier, the faster we can damage the heart. So, do not read food labels and learn about the calorie-fat-sodium-trans fat contents. Just don’t watch your diet, because losing 10 pounds alone will lessen the risk for heart attack by 50%, and help lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and the risk of cancer too. So, stay heavy. Fat is cute, anyway.
(4) Be a couch potato. Live a sedentary life. Do not exercise. Do not move a muscle, except the fingers needed to click on the TV remote control, as we gorge on junk foods while watching the soaps, sports, or game shows. Lack of exercise weakens not only our body but our heart and brain. Believe it or not, it also impacts our psyche. For those who are overweight, dieting and counting calories would be more effective with daily exercise in achieving the target more effectively. So, why exercise? It will only help lengthen our life.
(5) Eat more salt. Don’t listen to your doctor. Add salt to everything you eat, even before tasting the food. Just keep on shaking. This will raise your blood pressure and cause damage to the arteries in your body, including those that supply blood to your heart. The higher the blood pressure, the greater the risk for stroke and heart attack. If you lower the salt intake, it will help lower your chances of developing high blood pressure, and among those already with hypertension, it will greatly help in maintaining a normal blood pressure. For flavoring, go the natural way and use pepper, garlic, onion, oregano and other no-sodium food seasoning. But I want to warn you that this will NOT damage your heart.
(6) Sleep and rest as little as possible. The TV shows are exciting and worth the time. You can nap while you drive, anyway, and you can also snooze on the job. If you want to harm your heart, why even have rest and relaxation, which are simple and natural pleasures that are healthy. Those who lack sleep are prone to heart attack, high blood pressure, and stroke. These conditions and diabetes become harder to manage and control when sleep and rest are not adequate.
(7) Do not pay attention to stress or depression. Both of these have adverse impact on the heart, besides the mind and, actually, on the whole being. The earlier they are managed, the easier they are to cure. Stress and depression increase the risk for heart attack by more than 30 percent and also lead to weakened immune system, which predisposes these people to other illnesses as well.
(8) Don’t waste time bothering about ecology, about helping save Mother Nature or being kind to Planet Earth, and simply continue to pollute our air, water, and soil, which negatively impacts our health and contributes to heart disease and other illnesses. Do whatever your heart desires. Never mind about living a healthy lifestyle. Life is too short; let us make it even shorter by wrecking our heart in these eight easy and simple steps.
To those 8, I could have added a 9th step: Choosing for our parents couples who have heart disease, for us to be born with a heart that is more prone to cardiac disease. But since science has shown that a healthy lifestyle can outweigh and outsmart the genes, then hereditary factor could be offset by disciplined healthy habits. Medical literature is replete with studies to show that children, who lived healthy lifestyle, did not have increased risk for heart disease, hypertension, stroke, diabetes, like their parents who were health-negligent had.
Almost 1.6 million people die from heart attack, or 3 every minute, 136,000 from stroke, about 75,000 from diabetes, and about 263,000 from cancer, each year.
Those seemingly effortless 8 steps are, indeed, very tempting. But since they are obviously dangerous alternatives that only guarantee sickness and misery, the more prudent and wiser ‘one-step’ option is living a healthy lifestyle.
This may not sound that inviting and exciting to the young and those still healthy. But once health deteriorates, especially among those with severe shortness of breath from heart failure, those losing their eyesight or legs from diabetes, those with stroke, those with cancer that has spread all over the body, then the priceless value of health becomes clearer, more convincing, and the adage ‘Health is wealth” ceases to be trite and a cliché and assumes a more powerful meaning. By then, it is too late to bring back health.
So, why even wait?