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Your Action Plan for a Healthy Heart

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mediterranean dish on a plate

Thirty percent of heart attacks, strokes, and deaths from heart disease can be prevented by switching to a Mediterranean diet.

Soon after Stan Hattaway woke from the fog of quadruple bypass surgery, he vowed to forever change his old eating and lifestyle habits. “It used to be that I never saw a cheeseburger I didn’t like, and if there was barbecue, well, just bar the door,” says Hattaway, who runs a marketing and advertising agency with his wife, Cathy, in Scottsdale, Arizona.

“Now, I just don’t have the desire to eat like that anymore. I exercise regularly and am probably in the best shape of my entire life.” Indeed, since suffering a heart attack and undergoing the ensuing surgery in October 2011, Hattaway has stuck closely to a plant-based diet rich in beans, vegetables, and fruits. He typically exercises every day of the week, and takes a coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) supplement, which has been shown to benefit heart patients, plus a low-dose prescription statin.

Hattaway’s situation has prompted him to take what some may view as drastic measures in his quest to reverse heart disease, and new research affirms that many elements of his approach have relevance for anyone seeking to keep heart disease at bay, ward off a heart attack, or reverse the effects of heart disease.

And plenty of people fit the profile. Heart disease is the number one killer in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that each year 715,000 Americans suffer a heart attack, while heart disease kills about 600,000 people annually, accounting for 25 percent of all recorded deaths. The CDC estimates the total annual price tag for coronary heart disease in the U.S. at $108.9 billion.

Though the statistics are daunting, there is also guarded optimism. Past generations were armed with only sketchy information about how to prevent heart disease, but now we live in an era in which highly advanced research is capable of providing new insights into how factors such as inflammation, diet, exercise, stress, sleep, and even a positive outlook might impact heart health. What is emerging is an increasingly clear blueprint for living a heart-healthy lifestyle.

For the five major (and simple!) steps to improving your heart health and reducing the risk of heart disease, pick up the Jan/Feb 2014 issue of The Saturday Evening Post on newsstands, or

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