Browsing Posts tagged heart attack

A human heart consists of four chambers. There are two receiving chambers — the right atrium and the left atrium. And there are two pumping chambers — the right ventricle and the left ventricle. Blood enters the heart by way of the two atria (plural of atrium) and is pumped out by the two ventricles. The walls of these chambers are composed of a special type of muscle called cardiac muscle. The ventricles contract approximately once every second in order to pump blood through the blood vessels of the body. That amounts to approximately 32 million contractions in just one year.

In order to produce the energy needed for these contractions, the cardiac muscle uses large quantities of oxygen and nutrients. These nutrients and oxygen must be delivered to the cardiac muscle by a special system of blood vessels. At first glance it might seem that, since the chambers of the heart are full of blood, the cardiac muscle can get all the oxygen and nutrients it needs from the blood inside the chambers. However the distance the nutrients and oxygen can travel is microscopic. And the walls of the chambers, especially the ventricles, are extremely thick. Therefore the walls of the chambers contain a vast network of blood vessels whose purpose is to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the cardiac muscle. These blood vessels are called coronary vessels.

The aorta is the large blood vessel which leaves the left ventricle to carry blood to all parts of the body. Vessels branching off the aorta are called arteries. At the very beginning of the aorta, the right coronary artery and the left coronary artery branch off the aorta and travel over the outside of the heart. Both of these arteries branch many times to form a network of blood vessels which bring blood to every minute part of the cardiac muscle. That blood is rich in nutrients and oxygen, which the cardiac muscle uses to produce the energy needed to power the contractions of the heart.

If the cardiac muscle does not receive sufficient blood supply, the result could be a heart attack. The usual cause of a heart attack is a “coronary occlusion“. The word, coronary, refers to the coronary blood vessels. The word, occlusion, means that the size of the opening inside the coronary vessel has been significantly diminished, thus causing the vessel to carry less blood. The most common cause of a coronary occlusion is the build-up of a material called plaque inside the coronary vessel.

The condition in which plaque forms inside arteries is called atherosclerosis. The atherosclerotic plaque is composed of fat deposits, cholesterol, calcium, and fibers. Depending on how much plaque is present, the coronary vessel may have a slightly narrower opening or it could be effectively closed. When the opening in the artery becomes narrower, a certain area of cardiac muscle does not receive sufficient oxygen and nutrients. This causes a painful sensation called “angina pectoris” or simply angina. This pain is the sign of a heart attack.

If there is severe narrowing or even closure of the coronary artery, the area of cardiac muscle being served by that artery dies. The area of dead cardiac muscle is called a “myocardial infarction” or simply an infarct. The consequences of a myocardial infarction depend upon how much cardiac muscle is involved. If the occlusion occurs in a very small coronary artery, only a small area of muscle will be affected. In this case, the rest of the cardiac muscle may be able to compensate, allowing the heart to continue pumping blood. However if a large coronary artery is occluded. a large area of muscle will be affected and the heart will be unable to function.

While the presence of atherosclerotic plaque is the most common cause of coronary occlusion, there are other less common causes. A blood clot which formed somewhere else in the body could be carried into a coronary artery and get stuck, thus occluding the vessel. Or a spasm in the wall of a coronary artery could cause the opening inside the vessel to become narrower.

Heart disease is a major cause of death in developed as well as under developed countries. In Europe, especially England, approximately more than 27 % of all deaths are due to coronary heart disease (CHD). Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease and can eventually lead to heart attack. High blood pressure, stress, lack of exercise, being overweight, smoking cigarettes, increasing age, being male, heredity and choice of foods are the risk factors that ultimately result in heart diseases.

Research has shown that our diet, especially the amount and type of fat we eat, can increase the risk of CHD. Diets that are high in saturated fatty acids may raise the level of cholesterol in the blood. High blood cholesterol levels are linked to the development of CHD.

Cholesterol is found in some foods, and also made in the body by the liver, mainly from saturated fatty acids in foods. If cholesterol is oxidized (picks up oxygen circulating in the body), it can be deposited in the linings of coronary arteries, which starts to become block.

Antioxidants found naturally in foods, especially vitamin A, vitamin C, B-carotene and selenium help to stop cholesterol picking up oxygen, so that it is deposited less readily in the coronary arteries.

Cholesterol is not made so easily by liver if a person eats foods that contain poly-unsaturated fatty acids and some monounsaturated fatty acids. For example, the poly-unsaturated fatty acids in oily fish (e.g. sardine, mackerel, herring, and pilchards) seem to reduce the amount of cholesterol made by the liver.

Research has shown that when oils are processed to make them into margarine and other cooking fats, the polyunsaturated fatty acids in the oil may change to trans-fatty acids. These may increase the amount of cholesterol made by the liver.

Prevention of heart disease should begin in early childhood. Research has shown that fatty steaks have appeared in the arteries of some children as young as 10 years old. To prevent later problems, parents should encourage their children and adults to:

– Eat a variety of foods; eat fresh fruits, vegetables and salads.
– Regular exercise also strengthens the heart and reduces the risk of CHD
– Eat less high-fat food.
– Eat less sweet food, as excess sugar is converted into fat in the body causing weight gain and therefore a strain on the heart.
– Eat less salty food, as too much can lead to high blood pressure and therefore a strain on the heart.
– CHD patients are usually given dietary advice and are encouraged to stop smoking and limit the amount of alcohol they drink.

Although you don’t have any problem with your heart now, you should watch out since the disease in one of the major threats to human now. You should find way to lower your heart disease risk early no matter how old you are. There are many things that we can do for example eating good, exercising, reducing stress etc. Unfortunately, these activities need to be adapted as we grow older. In this article, we are going to give you some tips on how to avoid heart disease.

Watch out your smoking habit. Smoking is a very dangerous habit especially for heart disease. Even just one cigarette a day can stiffen your coronary arteries by 25 per cent. So, minimize it as much as you can. Quit it if you can.

Avoid birth control pills in women. The pills can increase the chance of blood clot due to the hormonal change. Oral contraceptives are therefore to be used with care.

Properly handle your stress. Stress increases adrenaline in your system. It raises blood pressure and destabilizes plague in your arteries. It can cause a clot or heart attack or many other illnesses. Therefore, learn to handle your stress well for the sake of your heart.

Do not forget to socialize. Loneliness is harmful especially for women. Therefore, make sure that you have enough time to be with your family, friends or others. It is one of the necessary tools to reduce the risk of heart disease.

Have enough sleep. You should sleep at least seven or eight hours a day to be healthy. Not enough sleep can lead to high blood pressure, low grade inflammation and higher levels of cortisol which is a stress hormone. These are harmful to your blood vessels and heart. In addition, lack of sleep can be associated to weight gain. So, you need to set up your sleeping time to make sure that you avoid them.

Have enough strength training. You will start to lose more muscle mass when you enter your 40s. Your metabolism will slow down and you can be fat easier. If you do more muscle training and gain more muscle. You can maintain your metabolism. So, start your weight lifting to help you reduce another risk factor of heart disease.

Here are just some of the tips that you can use to reduce your chance of having heart disease. There are still many other factors that you should do including watching out your diet, checking your health regularly and taking medication when you have to.