Being told you have heart disease is both traumatic and heart-wrenching. With the right knowledge, however, you can both deal with this sickness and combat any further damage done to your body.
Heart disease is an broadly used term to describe several conditions, all of which are potentially fatal, but can be treated. It’s onset is due to a series of lifestyle choices, and is preventable through risk factor monitoring and modification.
If ignored, heart disease can cause heart attacks (myocardial infarctions), congestive heart failure, angina pectoris, stroke, sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), and ischemia (reduced blood flow).
The most commonly found form is coronary artery disease. Coronary arteries supply the heart with oxygen and nutrients. This disease is caused by the narrowing or clogging of the coronary arteries (atherosclerosis), preventing the heart from received much needed nutrients.
Coronary artery disease and the reduced blood flow that follows can lead to other heart problems, such as chest pain (angina) and heart attacks (myocardial infarctions).
The risk of contracting coronary heart disease can be reduced by controlling and moderating the known risk factors in your life. If coronary artery disease goes untreated, and unhealthy lifestyle choices are continued, the result is coronary heart disease.
Excessive cholesterol in the blood stream may cause the body to deposit it into the arteries, causing blockages and narrowing. Often, this is the beginning of heart disease. There are many types of cholesterol, however, the one you should be wary of is low density lipoproteins (LDLs). This type of cholesterol is particularly life threatening as it has the capability to cause major blockages in the arteries, which could cause a heart attack.
LDLs are produced in the liver and in cells lining the blood vessels. Production of LDLs rise with the risks of heart disease, such as smoking, obesity, high cholesterol and diabetes. Conversely, the levels of LDLs fall when patients cease smoking, lose weight, and manage cholesterol and diabetes more efficiently.
The ideal cholesterol levels are less than 5.5. If cholesterol levels are 6.5 mmol/L or more, the risk of heart disease quadruples.
To combat high cholesterol, the risk factors involved should be regulated. This means maintaining a healthy blood pressure, monitoring cholesterol levels, controlling diabetes, eliminating smoking and drinking, minimizing stress, encouraging physical activity, and losing weight. Regular exercise has been proven to have positive effects on blood vessel and cholesterol levels.
Following are dietary aids to lowering cholesterol:
1. Reducing cheese consumption, or substituting for low fat variants
2. Drinking reduced fat milk
3. Use polyunsaturated margarine instead of butter
4. Use lean cuts of meat, and removing all visible fatty tissues
5. Eat skinless chicken, fish, and beans
6. Minimize consumption of pies, pastries, fish and chips, and commercial cakes. Many of these have unwanted hidden fats.
7. Use polyunsaturated fat in home made cakes, and cook chips with polyunsaturated or monosaturated oils.
8. Work to lose weight if obese
Strokes occur when there is an inadequate blood, and consequently oxygen, supply to the brain. This could be caused by a blockage in the blood vessels or a blood vessel burst. Because of this, it is important that one makes the necessary steps to prevent this debilitating condition.
Other cardiovascular conditions are chest pain (angina), high blood pressure, and rheumatic heart disease. Smoking and uncontrolled high blood pressure and also risk factors for stroke. People with diabetes are also two to four times more likely to die of heart disease and experience stroke.
Risk factors for stroke include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking. These can be altered to changes in lifestyle. Despite this, there are certain risk factors that cannot be changed, such as family history, age and race.
You can make changes that can reduce your risk for cardiovascular problems. Heart disease requires much monitoring, and it is encouraged that you continue to life a full and healthy lifestyle, even if you should suffer a heart attack.
Exercise continues to be important as the risk of heart disease doubles in people who remain inactive as opposed to those who don’t. Those who exercise regularly have half the chance of developing heart disease when compared to those with sedentary lifestyles.
If you are smoker, take steps necessary to quit. Studies show that five years after quitting, many former smokers have the same risk for heart disease as those who have never smoked.