Sunday, July 26, 2009

Coronary Artery Disease

Al Fathihah - Almarhum Yasmin Ahmad

The key to preventing heart disease is through a healthy lifestyle, starting with a healthy diet and a regular exercise programme.
Although heredity is a risk factor for heart disease, and an individual cannot control this factor, other factors can be modified to decrease the risk of heart disease. What you eat can reduce your chances of developing heart disease. A heart-healthy diet includes lots of whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. Beans, and soy products can help lower your cholesterol as well as olive oil, garlic, and avocados. Nuts, such as almonds, walnuts, and pecans, can boost "good" cholesterol (nuts are high in calories, so limit the amount you eat). Incorporate fish and seafood into your meals a few times a week. Also, try to avoid sweets.

Understanding how the heart works

To understand heart disease, you must first know how the heart works. The heart is like any other muscle, requiring blood to supply oxygen and nutrients for it to function. It beats about 100,000 times a day, pumping blood through your circulatory system. The cycle of pumping blood throughout your body carries fresh oxygen to your lungs and nutrients to your body's tissues. Blood also takes waste, such as carbon dioxide, away from your tissues.

What is heart disease?

Heart disease begins when cholesterol, fatty material, and calcium build up in the arteries. When this occurs in the arteries that supply the heart, this buildup, or plaque, causes the arteries to narrow, so that oxygen delivery to the heart is reduced. The reduction in oxygen delivery to the heart can create chest pain, also called angina.
When plaque builds up to the point that it ruptures, it causes a blood clot to form in the coronary artery. The blood clot blocks blood from flowing to the heart muscle, leading to a heart attack. In a worst-case scenario, sudden cardiac arrest or fatal rhythm disturbance can occur.

What are the risk factors for heart disease?

Some of the common risk factors for heart disease include
*high blood pressure (hypertension),
*high cholesterol,
*family history of heart disease,

Lifestyle risk factors that contribute to heart disease include
*lack of exercise,
*high-fat diet,
*emotional stress
*having a "type A" personality (aggressive, impatient, competitive).

Sudden cardiac death - a fatal consequence of heart disease
Everyone's experience with heart disease is different. Some people experience shortness of breath or chest pain and make it to the hospital in time to be treated. Others are not as lucky. For some people, sudden cardiac arrest can be the first symptom they experience, and it is often deadly unless treated immediately.

Symptoms of heart disease usually occur during exercise or activity. That's because the heart experiences increased demand for nutrients and oxygen that cannot be met because the coronary arteries are blocked. Other symptoms of heart disease include
*chest pain (angina),
*shortness of breath,
*jaw pain, toothache
*back pain, especially on the left side.

Other symptoms of heart disease may include
*dizziness or light-headedness,
*weakness when at rest,
*irregular heartbeat,
*abdominal pain.

For many women, seniors, and people with diabetes, pain is not a symptom of heart disease at all. Instead of experiencing discomfort, they often have symptoms of fatigue.

There is no single treatment method for heart disease
Each person experiences heart disease differently, and no one treatment method works for everyone. A multi-faceted approach of dietary changes, lifestyle changes, exercise, and medications may be combined, depending on the individual situation and needs.
Lower the risk of heart disease with exercise, aspirin, and by controlling high blood pressure and diabetes. .
Regular exercise strengthens the heart, lowers bad cholesterol (LDL), raises good cholesterol (HDL), and lowers blood pressure. It is recommended to exercise at least 30 minutes three to five days a week.

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