Heart disease or heart disease is a term used to define a number of serious diseases that affect the heart, often caused by an unhealthy diet. These conditions range from very common coronary disease, (largely caused by lifestyle) to the less common cases of congenital heart disease (which manifests itself before birth).
The following information will guide you through a number of different types of heart disease. From vital statistics and symptoms to the exploration of treatments and prevention measures, this guide aims to help develop a greater understanding of the leading cause of death.
Types of Heart Disease
The heart is a complex organ consisting of three layers:
- An outer lining called the ‘pericardium’
- A thick muscle wall made up of specialized cells called ‘myocardium’
- A delicate inner lining called the endocardium.
And four separate chambers:
- Two upper cavities called the ‘atrium’
- Two inferior cavities called the “ventricles.
In and around the heart is a complex system of valves, arteries, capillaries and veins that work together to pump blood to the rest of the body.
In order to understand a large number of possible problems that can occur inside the heart, it can be useful to compare it with four components of a home.
The plumbing, first place a home that represents the blood supply that leads to and from the heart. When the walls of the arteries become clogged with deposits of fat, blood cannot reach the heart and this causes angina (chest pain). Angina is a symptom of coronary heart disease, the most common heart disease.
Second, the bricks and cement of a house that equals the substance of the heart itself: muscle. When there are problems with the muscle, the heartbeat can become irregular. This is known as cardiac arithmetic, a term that refers to conditions, including atrial fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia.
Thirdly the structural components of a house represent the walls of the heart. The valvar disease occurs when the walls of the heart are damaged or leaking.
Finally, the wiring and the electrical system inside a house represent the actual functioning of the heart. Heart failure is the equivalent of a power outage.
10 Facts About Heart Disease
- A recent study examined how much of the decline in heart disease mortality in England and Wales could be attributed to medical treatment, and how much could be attributed to reducing risk. The results showed that 58% of mortality reductions were reduced by lifestyle changes such as reduction in smoking, as opposed to medication and treatment.
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the UK.
- It is expected that 1 in 5 men will die of heart disease this year.
- It is expected that 1 in 7 women will die of heart disease this year, suggesting that men are more likely to die of heart disease than women.
- There are currently 2.6 million people living with heart disease in the UK.
- Coronary heart disease is the most common of all heart diseases in the United Kingdom.
- Coronary artery disease claims nearly 50,000 premature deaths in the UK in a year.
- 88,000 people die of heart disease in the UK every year.
- People living in Scotland and northern England are statistically more likely to die from heart disease than those living in southern England (BHF).
- The chances of getting increased heart disease with age.
What is coronary artery disease?
Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease. It occurs when the walls of the coronary arteries become clogged with deposits of fat, called atheromas. This blockage narrows the arteries and restricts blood flow to the heart, a process known as atherosclerosis.
Symptoms of coronary heart disease
This is the most common symptom of coronary heart disease. It is experienced in 10-15% of women over 65 years and in 10-20% of men over 65 years. Angina is known as a syndrome. By definition, a syndrome is a set of symptoms indicative of an underlying cause (which causes is coronary disease).
Angina sufferers usually experience:
- A feeling of restlessness
- A strong, dull or intense pain in the chest that can extend to the arm
- Left, neck, jaw and back.
There are two types of angina. Both are indicative of poor health, but one is considered more serious than the other;
This is the least serious of the two angina types. Stable occurs gradually over time and can follow an established pattern. It usually occurs for a few minutes during exercise or during periods of stress. This is because the heart is beating faster and requires blood to be pumped faster. Because the arteries are clogged by fat deposits, the required amount of blood can not be pumped to or from the heart quickly enough.
By itself, stable angina is not fatal, but it is indicative of future more serious heart conditions, such as a heart attack or stroke. Angina pectoris sufferers are usually advised to take a medication called nitroglycerin.
See More: Cholelithiasis: Its Causes and Symptoms
This is the most serious of the two types and should be handled as a medical emergency. In cases of unstable angina, fat deposits (called plaque) rupture and interfere with normal blood flow and can lead to clotting, which often leads to a heart attack.
The symptoms usually last much longer (up to 30 minutes) and can develop quickly, even during rest periods. The medicine used to relieve stable angina pectoris, glyceryl triturates, will often have no effect during a case of unstable angina.
Causes of coronary heart disease
Many causes of coronary heart disease can be reducible by making a number of lifestyle changes. Causes include:
- high cholesterol
- of smoking
- Overweight or obesity
- Excessive consumption of alcohol.
Some risk factors are predetermined and cannot be changed. These include:
- ethnic origin
- family background.
- Prevention of coronary heart disease
Give up smoking
Approximately 25% of the UK population smokes and, as a result, smoking is one of the most common causes of death. One-way smoking can cause death is through coronary heart disease.
Smoking can damage artery walls, making it easier for fat deposits to attach to walls and form blockages.
Nicotine in cigarettes acts as a stimulant, increasing heart rate and blood pressure. This means that the heart has to work harder to pump blood.
The carbon monoxide released from cigarette smoke reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood, resulting in the heart having to work yet again to pump oxygen to the rest of the body.
Certain foods contain dietary cholesterol. Cholesterol is essentially fat, so when there is a high amount in the bloodstream they attach to the arterial linings and form blockages. Foods to avoid include:
Unsaturated fats, for example, fatty cuts of meat, pastry, chocolate confectionery, biscuits, chips and other savory snacks, cakes and processed foods (prepared dishes).
Replacing saturated and unsaturated fatty products should help reduce cholesterol:
- Bluefish (mackerel and salmon)
- Nuts (cashews, almonds)
- Vegetable oils (olive, walnut, sesame seeds, sunflower)
- Seeds (pumpkin and sunflower).
The benefits of exercise are unlimited. Cardiovascular exercise will help you burn calories and get rid of excess fat, which reduces the risk of cholesterol blockages in the arteries and prevents heart disease. So only 150 minutes of moderate to intense exercise a week will help to improve your levels Of cholesterol. This could include:
- Cycling – puts very little strain on the joints
- Brisk walking – can burn many calories without exercising the heart too
- Cycling-swimming like, the impact on the joints is minimal due to the elevation of the water
- Yoga – helps build muscle base without adding additional resistance (weight training), which could put pressure on the heart.
Although it has not been proven to be a direct cause of coronary heart disease, stress can contribute to symptoms in the long run.
Many people resort to smoking, eating healthier and drinking excessively during particularly stressful times. These three risk factors can induce coronary heart disease. So how can it be reduced?
Regular activity and cardiovascular exercise will help fight stress by releasing endorphins (‘feel good’ hormones).
Talking with family and friends and taking action to find support will help alleviate some of the pressure.
Some people find that meditation or breathing exercises can help alleviate physical symptoms of stress, such as headaches or palpitations.
Talk to a counselor who can help you deal with your problems from an objective perspective.
Living with coronary heart disease
Coronary heart disease cannot be completely cured. However, there are a number of treatments designed to improve the quality of life and reduce symptoms. These include:
Tackle risk factors: stop smoking, reduce alcohol consumption, eat healthily and exercise regularly.
Rapid diagnosis: The sooner a family doctor identifies coronary disease; the sooner actions can be taken to prevent a heart attack or deterioration.
Rapid treatment during a heart attack: It is important for the treatment of angioplasty to be available once the patient has reached the hospital. Angioblast is the term used when the obstructed artery causing the infarction is mechanically unobstructed.