Heart disease is also known as coronary heart disease and it occurs when the coronary arteries or the arteries to and from the heart are afflicted with some problems making them unable to carry the nutrient rich and oxygen-laden blood to the heart. The coronary arteries when clogged with calcium, fatty mineral or plaque are unable to perform their duty of supplying oxygen and other nutrients to the heart making it unable to pump the blood properly, leading to heart disease.
Causes of heart disease
The coronary arteries in a normal person have smooth inner linings but due to several factors, these linings start being blocked. There is build up of plaque or clogging due to high cholesterol levels leading to the arteries getting smaller. The smaller arteries are unable to supply the oxygen-laden blood to the heart causing heart disease. The factors that lead to the heart diseases are as follows:
- Hereditary factor: if coronary heart disease runs in the family, the offsprings are prone to being afflicted by it.
- High cholesterol levels
- Smoking cigarettes or chewing tobacco
- High blood pressure
- Lack of regular exercise
- High fat diet
Complications of heart diseases
Heart diseases, as mentioned occur when the coronary arteries are narrowed due to the formation of plaque leading to a restricted flow of blood to the heart. This causes angina or chest pain. However, if there is complete blockage of the arteries, it may lead to a heart attack or a cardiac arrest. Coronary heart disease may lead to disability or death of the person.
Symptoms of heart diseases
While symptoms of other diseases may be gradual, those occurring in the case of a heart disease are sudden and unexpected, the cardiac arrest being one of them. The other symptoms of heart disease include:
- chest pain
- shortness of breath when the person exerts himself
- back pain, jaw pain, arm pain during exertion and even when at rest
- dizziness or the feeling of fainting
- irregular heartbeat
The symptoms of heart disease might not occur even when there is fifty percent blockage of the arteries. Therefore, a person has to regularly, go for heart tracing (ECG) or other tests to show signs of heart disease.
Treatment of heart diseases
Once it is confirmed that a person is afflicted with heart disease, he has to be very careful and take care to improve his condition. While some cases of heart diseases can be controlled by bringing in lifestyle changes, others need medical intervention.
Life style changes include:
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet of fruits, nuts,
- Lower the cholesterol levels especially the bad or the LDL cholesterol
- Lower the intake of fat and high calories
- Follow a regular exercise routine
- Quit smoking
- Control diabetes
- Control the high blood pressure
- Try not to consume alcohol
Medical treatment of heart diseases means that medical intervention is necessary to treat the arteries choked with plaque. Since there is restricted blood flow due to the blocked arteries, treatment methods mentioned below are taken up to treat the heart disease.
- Taking aspirin as this thins the blood and reduces the chances of clotting
- Taking beta-blockers, which decrease the blood pressure and heart rate reducing the demand of oxygen
- Taking nitroglycerin as this dilates the arteries thereby increasing the supply of oxygen. It also reduces chest pain
- Instant relief from chest pain is provided by tablets placed under the tongue
- Statin drugs reduce the amount of fat and cholesterol (lipids) in the blood
- Invasive procedures are needed when medications are unable to control the symptoms of angina. The blocked arteries are surgically cleared. The invasive procedures include coronary angioplasty, by-pass surgery, putting up stents and other forms of medical treatments.
Although the methods and treatments mentioned above provide a cure to the heart disease to an extent, they are not indicative of the fact that a person who has undergone the treatment procedure might not be inflicted with the problem again. Some people have re-occurring incidents of heart diseases requiring multiple surgeries from time to time. The best way to avoid heart diseases is to bring lifestyle changes.