According to the Mayo Clinic (and every other authority for that matter), there has been an upswing in coronary disease over the last 20 years. In fact, a recent study found clogged arteries in young adults, age 16 on up – suggesting heart disease doesn’t only affect men and women in their 50s and 60s. The latest findings mark the first shift since the mid-1960s, when a decline in heart disease began.

In the study, researchers from the Mayo Clinic and University of British Columbia reported that of 515 people, ages 16-64, 82% (425 persons) had “a degree of coronary artery atherosclerosis assessed at autopsy.

The researchers stated that 83% of that group had signs of coronary artery disease (CAD) and around 8% had a high level of the disease. Their 23-year analysis demonstrated three categories of decline: high level, any level, and average degree of CAD. Yet, the degree of these declines stopped after 1995 and may have actually headed upward— after the year 2000.

It is little surprise that there has also been a corresponding rise in obesity and diabetes rates during this same time frame. And the link between obesity, diabetes, and heart disease has already been established through relationships such as Syndrome X.

The introduction of computers and a more sedentary lifestyle, the growth of fast food chains and larger portion sizes, reduced physical education in schools and increased consumption of high-fructose corn syrup have massively contributed to the obesity explosion; which has now become an epidemic in North America.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that in 2003, just over a million American men died. Of these deaths, approximately 80% died of heart disease or one of the nine other leading causes of death among American men (cancer, unintentional injuries, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease/COPD, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia, suicide, kidney disease, Alzheimer's disease).

The American Heart Association revealed that over 410,000 men died of cardiovascular disease in 2004 and about one-fourth of all heart disease-related deaths occur in men, 35-65. Men typically develop heart disease 10-15 years earlier than women— consequently dying in their prime.

Surprisingly, heart patients rarely change their diet. You’d think they would considering they just suffered a heart attack but apparently old habits die hard. A February 11 Reuters article demonstrates this finding. Dr. Yunsheng Ma of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, conducted a follow-up study of 555 heart disease patients for a year. He and his colleagues discovered that few met “recommendations for fruit, vegetable and fiber intake and were eating a ‘disturbing’ amount of trans fat.”

According to the article, researchers used the Alternate Healthy Eating Index (AHEI), a measurement of heart-healthy eating, including “fruit and vegetable consumption, amount of trans fat consumed, and ratio of white-to-red meat eaten.”

• The average score was 30.8—out of 80

• Only 12.4% at five or more vegetable servings daily

• Only 7.8% at four or more servings of fruit daily

• Less than 8% met cereal fiber recommendations

• Only 50% exercised for at least 20 minutes at least once in the past 3 months

One of the problems is only 20% had cardiac rehabilitation following an event; those that did, their programs typically focused on exercise, not nutrition.

Keeping Your Heart Healthy

Regardless of your age, you need to start making healthier lifestyle changes now. Here are a number of preventive steps you can take:

• Stop smoking or using tobacco products

• Eat a varied diet rich in living fruits and vegetables

• Minimize consumption of animal fats, trans-fat, and cooked plant fats.

• Minimize consumption of refined sugars.

• Maintain a healthy weight

Exercise at least 30 minutes every day

• Have your cholesterol and blood pressure tested

• Diabetics should keep blood sugar under control through proper nutrition, regular exercise, and positive lifestyle habits.

Author's Bio: 

Nutrition Expert, Yuri Elkaim and his groundbreaking Eating for Energy book have helped thousands of people in over 80 countries regain control of their health and weight. Watch his new You Tube Video and discover a delicious heart-healthy recipe that will keep you energized and nourished. For more on his revolutionary healthy eating book please visit