What Causes Heart Disease?

By: Mel Joelle

Heart Disease kills more people in the United States and worldwide than any other condition. Yet few people understand the mechanisms of the heart and the daily practices that contribute to heart disease. Understanding the inner workings of the heart and the causes of heart disease is the first step in fighting the world’s most lethal disease.

Cardiovascular disease is the #1 killer for a reason. Heart disease is more than just one condition and it comes in many forms so it is most often referred to as cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease arises from several different conditions such as coronary artery disease, stroke, high blood pressure, rheumatic fever and heart muscle disease.

The prime cause of heart disease is damage to the heart in some form or another caused by a variety of factors, habits and choices people make. However, several risk factors for heart disease are beyond people’s control. Heart disease, or weakening of the heart’s muscles and pumping ability, happens naturally with aging and heredity.

Coronary artery disease is the most common form of heart disease. Heart disease can affect anyone, but it is an especially prevalent killer among those 65 and over.

Understanding Risk Factors

The key to understanding heart disease is knowing the risk factors. Significant risk factors increase the likelihood of cardiovascular disease.

The good news is many risk factors can be avoided, decreased or eliminated by lifestyle changes.

* High cholesterol
o Too much of this fatty substance in your blood is a major risk factor for heart disease. Fatty foods contribute, but even more so, saturated fat leads to cholesterol. A high amount of “bad cholesterol” creates plaque buildup along the walls of arteries that flow blood to the heart, which leads to a heart attack. Heart attacks weaken heart muscles and often lead to death.
* High blood pressure
o Obesity, smoking and high cholesterol contribute to high blood pressure. High blood pressures increases risk of heart disease or stroke. High blood pressure strains the heart’s muscle, causing them to weaken. Consult your doctor for the appropriate blood pressure and how to reach optimum level.
* Obesity
o Obesity adds to high cholesterol, high blood pleasure and greater chance of heart disease. Maintaining a healthy weight and a balanced diet with exercise can lower your risk.
* Diabetes
o Many people associate diabetes with amputations, low blood sugar and dizziness. But heart problems are a top killer among diabetics. Stable blood sugar staves off diabetes-related heart disease. Diabetes damage healthy blood flow, causing hearts to weaken over time.
* Low exercise
o Exercise reduces risks of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes. It’s no wonder why no exercise equals higher risk of heart disease. Exercise promotes healthy blood flow through the veins and arteries. Those functions are the key to a healthy heart and avoiding heart disease.

Other factors

* Age, family history, and gender play key roles in heart disease. Heart diseases affect most people over 65 years of age, due to inactivity after retirement. Inactivity weakens the heart’s muscles, decreasing the ability to flow blood through the arteries.
* If heart disease runs in the family, then each member run a greater risk of contracting the disease. Heart disease also affects men more than women.
* Two other heart diseases factors are stress and alcohol. Too much stress causes a strain on heart muscles through high blood pressure and heart rate.

If you or someone you know suffers from any risk factors, please consult a physician to have adequate tests taken to determine whether or not you may be suffering from the early stages of heart disease.

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