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Natural Awakenings Sarasota / Manatee / Charlotte

Why “GO RED” for Women?

Jan 31, 2015 11:55PM ● By Dr. Fred Harvey

Pink gets all the attention…and undeservedly so! Yes, I said it. Tell your friends! Red deserves more time and more attention than Pink.

            You think that heart attacks are a guy’s disease? Since 1984, more women than men die annually of heart disease. Worse yet, women are twice as likely as men to die from the heart attack, or in the year after a heart attack.

Ladies, do you think that you’re not at risk? Please wake up. Nine out of 10 women have at least one risk factor.

Ever smoke while on the pill? You have a risk factor.

            African American women are twice more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than white and Hispanic women.

Heart disease is the number one killer of women, and it takes more lives worldwide annually than all forms of cancer combined.

Breast cancer kills one in 31 women every year, but cardiovascular disease causes one in three of women’s deaths annually.

So, Pink, take a seat while we Go Red.


However, enough with the doom and gloom; let’s talk health and wellness. I want to show you how to reduce your risk of a cardiovascular event. Let’s address the risk factors.


Obesity and Diabetes

I put these two risk factors together because they work hand-in-hand. The purpose of insulin is to store excess carbohydrates as fat. Diabetes is a carbohydrates-storage disease, reaching epidemic proportions due to the parallel epidemic of obesity.

            Medical costs for people who are obese are about $1,500 higher annually than for people of normal weight. This is because fat is an inflammatory organ. Fat is angry. Angry fat sends signals to other organs that irritate them. Irritated organs are dysfunctional and lead to illness. Irritated blood is thick and sticky. Irritated blood vessels are also sticky and narrow. This leads to thrombosis or clot formation in the blood vessel, which is known as a heart attack or stroke.

            There are some very simple interventions to combat obesity. First is movement. Simply walk 30 minutes daily. A more difficult intervention is changing what you put in your mouth. To make changing your dietary habits easier, keep it simple. If you were to eliminate one item from your diet that would promote the most rapid change in your metabolism and your weight, could you do that? If so, stop eating grain today. I don't mean go gluten-free; I said to go grain-free. That means no bread, no pasta, no rice, no crackers, no cookies, no muffins, no couscous, no kasha.


High Blood Pressure

Almost one-third of adults in America have high blood pressure, or hypertension. It is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke and heart failure. Obesity and the high insulin levels associated with Type II diabetes are linked to hypertension. Therefore, the first steps to controlling high blood pressure are start moving and change your diet.



Fortunately, fewer people smoke today than ever before, yet almost 20 percent of the population still smokes as of 2010. Stop.


High Cholesterol

Statistical epidemiologic evidence reveals that those individuals who have elevated LDL cholesterol or low HDL cholesterol are at risk for a cardiovascular event, such as heart attack or stroke. However, there is no evidence that cholesterol causes heart attacks. Elevated cholesterol is actually another symptom of angry fat and angry blood vessels. We can begin to control the inflammation in the body by simply increasing movement and decreasing grain intake. Not all who have high cholesterol need a statin. The guidelines are simple and can be found here: You can also calculate your 10-year risk here: In my practice, I have taken four women and two men off of their statin drugs because of these new guidelines.


Physical Inactivity

Physical inactivity was added as a risk factor most recently. We are designed to move on a regular basis. If we do not move, we get sick. Numerous studies have revealed that approximately 30 minutes a day of vigorous movement can change medical illness. A 30-minute daily walk can dispel depression and reverse Type II diabetes. So, let's get moving!


Excessive Alcohol Use

More than two ounces of alcohol a day cannot be processed efficiently by your liver. This results in multiple physiologic changes, including increased blood pressure. The heart does not do well under this strain and can be damaged. Excessive alcohol is a prominent cause of heart failure. So, have a glass of red wine with dinner, but avoid binge drinking.


Poor Diet

I could speak for days on this subject. However, there are a few simple rules. Eat a diet that is based on plants. Each meal should consist of 80 percent plant- and 20 percent animal-based food. The plants should be primarily leafy greens. Eliminate processed foods like white sugar, white flour and almost anything in a box or can.

Everyone should take a multivitamin of good quality because we are all deficient in minerals and vitamins due to the nature of the modern diet and lifestyle. A daily dose of two grams of high quality fish oil is foundational vascular nutrition. 2000 international units of vitamin D help to stabilize inflammation. A daily probiotic will help to replace the beneficial bacteria that we formerly got from our naturally fermented foods, which are absent from today's diet.


Wake Up to Cardiovascular Disease

I realize that this article started on a rather negative note. I wanted to get your attention. I wanted you to realize that, although heart disease is prevalent and deadly, there are some very clear risk factors that can be corrected or diminished with very simple and inexpensive interventions.

            National Wear Red Day is February 6. It is an annual day to bring attention to this silent killer of women. The American Heart Association encourages everyone to wear red, raise their voices, know their cardiovascular risk and take action to live longer, healthier lives.

Dr. Fred Harvey is a triple board-certified physician from the American Board of Internal Medicine, American Board of Internal Medicine/Geriatrics, and the American Board of Holistic Medicine. Dr. Harvey’s programs are designed to improve the quality of life, reverse the signs of aging and prevent degenerative diseases that can rob patients of their quality of life. 

The Harvey Center for Integrative Medicine is located at 3982 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota. For more information or to schedule a one-on-one consultation, please contact Dr. Fred Harvey at 941-929-9355.

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