Cardiovascular diseases

November 12, 2012

Cardiovascular diseases

The term cardiovascular diseases refers to any medical condition related to the heart and blood vessels and is the leading cause of death in the US. There are many types and causes but there are also many ways to prevent them.

What are cardiovascular diseases?

In most cases CVD conditions are caused by a build-up of plaque on the artery walls. Plaque is made up of a number of substances present in the blood. These substances include fat, cholesterol, calcium, cellular waste and fibrin. Fibrin plays an important role in the formation of blood clots. When a build up of plaque occur on the artery wall, blood flow to and from the heart becomes restricted. When this happens the result can include stroke, heart attack and even death.

Causes of heart disease

Cholesterol is the primary cause of all cardiovascular diseases. Cholesterol can be split into two groups known as low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL). When there is too much LDL and too little HDL the likelihood of developing heart disease increases. HDL is needed to remove the LDL from plaque and send it back to the liver so it important that HDL levels do not drop. Another cause of heart diseases such as heart attacks and strokes is high blood pressure. This causes an increase in the amount of blood pumping through the heart leading to excessive strain on the organ. Arteries, particularly those that have been hardened with blood are more likely to rupture when combined with high blood pressure. Smoking increases the risk of plaque building up on the artery walls, a condition known as atherosclerosis.

Types of heart disease

Cardiovascular diseases can be separated into four groups; heart failure, arrhythmia, heart valve disease and stroke.

  1. Heart failure occurs when blood is not supplied to the heart or rest of the body in adequate quantities. This means the heart has to work harder and overtime will slow down due to the strain. A healthy diet and exercise can reduce these effects.

  2. Arrhythmia is the name of the condition where your heart beats irregularly. This can also effect how much blood is pumped in and out and can lead to the formation of blood clots. Lifestyle changes can improve the outcome of this condition as can surgical intervention.

  3. A heart attack can happen when part of the organ does not receive blood for a length of time due to a blockage. If the blockage isn’t removed immediately that part of the heart will die.

  4. Heart valve disease occurs when there is a problem with one of the valves that control how much blood is released. When one stops working blood can seep back into the heart chambers and lead to blood clots and stroke.

Preventing cardiovascular diseases

  • Quit smoking and find that the risk of heart attacks is reduced by half in the first year and within 10 years the risk will be the same as someone who never smoked.

  • A healthy diet low in fat, cholesterol and salt is essential for maintaining a healthy heart.

  • Regular exercise is also important for maintaining overall health.

  • Avoid excessive stress as it will raise your blood pressure and put added strain on your heart.

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