A single high-fat meal can pave way for heart disease
Heart disease is perhaps the most concerning and frequent public health complication facing America. The risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) has increased as obesity rates in the U.S. (and around the world) continually increase and put more individuals at risk of developing heart disease. Indeed, a March 2018 study published in JAMA (the Journal of the American Medical Association) found 40 percent of Americans are obese, a sharp uptick from just a decade earlier, when around one-third of the population was obese. Also, 7.7 percent of Americans are severely obese, more than the 5.7 percent observed between 2007 and 2008.
As researchers noted, the growing incidence of obesity has given rise to greater complications involving CVD and diabetes, among other conditions, experienced by Americans. However, understanding the risk of heart disease is not as simple as knowing it's unhealthy to be obese. In fact, Dr. James Krieger, clinical professor of medicine at University of Washington, and who was not involved in the study, told The New York Times "[m]ost people know that being overweight or obese is unhealthy ..."
What most people may not know is that just a single high-fat meal can make the possibility of developing CVD all the more real, as a separate recent study found. Key to raising awareness of healthy lifestyle choices and CVD prevention is grasping just how real and ever-present the dangers of heart disease are.
The importance of learning more about heart disease is especially pronounced knowing that it's the leading cause of death among American adults. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease kills 630,000 people a year in the U.S., accounting for 1 in every 4 deaths, making it the single greatest killer of men and women alike. Each minute an American dies from a heart-related event, and each year more than $200 billion in economic losses is caused by heart disease.
What makes the heart disease problem so large-scale is that there are many risk factors that can contribute to developing CVD, including habits seemingly ingrained in many people's lives. Risk factors like smoking, not exercising and — most importantly — not eating right can have profound impacts on a person's likelihood of experiencing heart disease. Diet may be even more important to prevention than once thought.