How to prevent heart disease
The heart is a blood-rich organ that requires oxygen and pure blood for it to function. The coronary arteries are responsible for supplying blood to the heart and the veins take blood from the heart to the organs of the body.
Causes of Heart diseases:
In today’s modern lifestyle, heart attacks have become a common cause of death across the world. The factors that increase the chances of heart diseases are called as risk factors. Risk factors can be divided as major risk factors and contributing risk factors .
Major risk factors:
- High blood cholesterol: One of the major causes of heart disease is high levels of cholesterol. Liver produces the essential cholesterol for the body. The increased cholesterol content in the body is from the food we eat (meat, dairy, alcohol, oils)
- Sometimes cholesterol deposits (plaques) inside the lining of the artery, thus narrowing the arteries and reducing the blood supply to the heart. This low blood supply causes heart aches or angina. When the plaque ruptures it causes a blood clot. This stops the blood flow and thus that portion of the heart dies. This phenomenon is commonly called as “Heart attack”.
- High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): High blood pressure increases the chance of heart diseases and stroke
- Diabetes: People with diabetes are at a higher risk of heart disease due to the increased blood sugar levels
- Obesity: Obesity, overall increases blood pressure, and total cholesterol content
- Smoking: People who smoke are prone to heart diseases. Smoking increases blood pressure. The chemicals in a cigarette create build-up on the lungs and blood vessels. Low oxygen levels tampers with the blood supply to the heart. Deposits of chemicals alters the cholesterol and fibrinogen levels increasing the risks of blood clots
- Gender: Men are at a higher risk of heart disease than woman. After the age of 65, both men and women are at same risk
- Physical inactivity: People who are physically inactive for most part of the day are at higher risk of heart diseases. Regular exercise of any form aids in total calorie burn-up. Studies show that burning around 500 to 3500 calories per week can increase our life span
- Heredity, racial and ethnic groups: Researches have found that heart disease runs in the family. Risk factors such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes can also be passed on. Further studies have shown that certain racial and ethnic groups are at a higher risk of heart diseases. For example: African-Americans have higher blood pressure than Americans
- Age: As we grow older our heart may not function as efficiently as it did when we were younger. Heart disease is common in older ages. With the increase in environmental changes and body adaptations heart diseases is catching up to the younger crowd today
Contributing risk factors:
- Stress: We have been placed in stressful situations every day. Our attitude towards stress makes a huge difference on its effect on our heart. Stress elevates blood pressure and increases the amount of blood clotting.
- Birth Control Pills: These pills are encapsulated with hormones such as oestrogen and progestin. These hormones increases the risk of heart diseases
- Alcohol: Consumption of alcohol increases fat content in the body and thus increases the risk of heart disease.
Some myths about heart disease
- Drugs lower cholesterol: Drugs are present to enhance the hearts life. It does not lower the cholesterol levels
- Zero cholesterol foods: There are no zero cholesterol foods. They may be low on cholesterol
- Women are not prone to heart disease: Long ago men were more prone to heart disease. Today, heart disease effects men and women equally
- A few drinks is fine: A general sating among most men who drink. A few drinks everyday is what causes the problem
- Children are not affected: Heart diseases are prone to affect all age groups. Congenital heart diseases, disease of the heart due to overeating are seen in children.
Some foods that might help you prevent heart disease:
Low salt food: Salt intake increases blood pressure thus increasing the risk of heart disease
Garlic: It’s also known as hearts best friend. Garlic consumption reduces blood pressure and regularizes cholesterol level
Salmon: Salmon is rich in Omega-3S. This can prevent blood clots and balance cholesterol levels
Berries: Berries are rich in polyphenols. This prevents cell damage of blood vessels and the heart.
Walnuts: These are rich in Omega-3S
Chocolates and red wine: Chocolates are rich in anti-oxidants which is good for the heart
Fruits and vegetables: Good source of vitamins, fibers and minerals and low in calories
Whole grains: Good source of fiber that reduce blood pressure
What are silent heart attacks?
A heart attack without any symptoms is commonly referred to as “silent heat attacks”. The coronary is damaged severely, cutting blood supply to the heart, and preventing possible symptoms of a heart attack. Many people ignore symptoms of a heart attack and thus end up having a silent attack.
Does red wine help prevent heart disease?
Red wine is rich in a chemical called resveterol and anti-oxidants. This prevents damage to blood vessels and blood clots. A glass of red wine a day, keeps the heart healthy.
How to lower my cholesterol numbers?
Lipitor is a drug that is used to balance the cholesterol levels in the body
What tests can be done to diagnose the condition?
Electrocardiogram: This test records the electrical activity of the heart using patches of electrodes attached to different parts of the body (chest, arms and legs)
Chest x-ray: Small amount of radiation used to produce image of the heart, lungs and ribs
Echo cardiogram: This test uses ultrasound to evaluate the heart muscles, valves and blood vessels
Cardiac catheterization: This is an invasive imaging using catheters. This allows us to view the functioning of the heart. The catheter is inserted into the blood vessel of the leg or the arm and led to the heart using specialized x-ray machine
CT heart scans: Computed tomography or CT scan uses multiple x-rays and with help of a computer can produce cross-sectional images