Numerous disorders fall under the broad category of heart and vascular disease. Here, discussion is restricted to arteriosclerosis, angina, and heart attack (heart disease).
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one out of every four deaths in the United States is attributable to heart disease. Coronary heart disease is the most common form of heart disease.
Arteries transport blood from the heart and deliver it to other parts of the body. Arteriosclerosis occurs when the inside of the artery wall thickens, leaving a narrower passageway for the blood to travel through. This disorder is often called hardening of the arteries.
Arteriosclerosis can affect the coronary arteries—the arteries that lead to the heart—and is usually caused by a buildup of fatty deposits within the arterial walls. This buildup is often the result of a poor diet, one that’s high in bad fats and low in fiber. Most people who have arteriosclerosis are not aware of it. As it does not trigger symptoms in the body until later in the disease.
A heart attack
Unfortunately, when arteriosclerosis is left untreated, it just gets worse. Without treatment, the arteries will eventually become so constricted that adequate supplies of oxygenated blood can’t reach the heart muscle. This oxygen deprivation may result in the chest pain known as angina. Angina is often a precursor to a heart attack.
In some ways, people with angina are lucky. Their pain usually leads to a diagnosis of cardiovascular disease, and they can then take several steps to slow or reverse their condition before it results in a trip to the emergency room or even death. But for many, a heart attack is the first outward sign of trouble; 25 percent of people who suffer heart attacks have never felt any previous symptoms.
A heart attack—or myocardial infarction, as it’s called by doctors—is brought on when blood flow to a section of the heart muscle is completely cut off, either because a clot has backed up behind a thickened artery, or because the artery itself has become so narrow that no blood at all can pass through. If you ever suspect that you are having a heart attack, you must receive emergency medical care at once.
Instead of having someone drive you to a hospital (unless you are really close), call for an ambulance. Life-saving treatment for heart attacks requires special medical techniques and tools, and the sooner professionals arrive with their equipment, the greater your chances of survival.
Heart disease Today
Heart disease is so prevalent now, most people are surprised to hear that it was actually quite rare until the turn of the twentieth century. Our modern diet and way of life are at the root of most heart problems. And the best way to prevent or reverse heart disease is to change our habits.
Because heart disease is caused by a variety of factors. It is best to include several kinds of therapies in your treatment or prevention plan. Eat well, exercise, manage stress, and identify and treat genetic susceptibilities that are known to bring on cardiovascular disease.
In recent years, researchers have found that chronic inflammation in the blood vessels is a central factor in the development of heart disease. This chronic inflammation leads to arterial wall damage and the resulting plaque formation.
Although cholesterol levels have some importance, it appears that this substance is not the “villain” that it was once thought to be. While diet and lifestyle factors are root causes of chronic inflammation, there are also genetic reasons beyond inheriting a disposition to high cholesterol levels.
They include one’s levels of homocysteine, insulin, HDL and LDL particle sizes, damaged or oxidized LDL levels, stress-hormone imbalance, nutritional deficiencies, and hereditary factors. Fortunately, genetic susceptibilities can be reduced through natural therapies.
Stealth or hidden infections in the body are also suspected of increasing the inflammatory response. Therefore, it is imperative that you are tested for these newer, more predictive markers of heart disease.
Finally, the impact of stress and negative emotions cannot be underrated as a cause of heart disease.