Heart Health and Wellness

There are a variety of factors affecting heart health and heart disease. While some of these factors cannot be managed, such as aging and hereditary predisposition, many can. Generally, men are at greater risk of heart disease and consequently have to work harder at maintaining a healthy heart than women. However, after women go through menopause, their risk of heart disease can increase three fold. To find out more about how to prevent heart disease, review the following conditions related to heart health.

Angina

Angina is characterized by chest pain that is caused by a reduction in blood supply to the heart or by other heart abnormalities, usually as a result of hardening of the arteries that feed into the heart.

There are three primary types of angina: Stable Angina, Variant Angina, and Unstable Angina. Stable angina is associated with atherosclerosis and is characterized by chest pain that occurs during periods of exercise. Variant angina, unlike stable angina, can occur during exercise or while resting. This form of angina is most often caused by coronary artery spasms and atherosclerosis. Unstable angina is the most severe form or angina as it many times leads directly to a heart attack. Unstable angina is unpredictable and is characterized by severe chest pain.

Learn more about Angina here.

Cardiac Arrhythmia

Cardiac arrhythmia is the disturbance of heart rhythm and can range in severity from very mild to extremely life-threatening. While some natural remedies can be used in connection with cardiac arrhythmia, a doctor should be consulted immediately if you suspect you have a cardiac arrhythmia.

Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis is a disease of the heart characterized by hardening of the arteries caused by fatty buildups and deposits of cholesterol and calcium along the interior walls of there arteries. The form of atherosclerosis affecting arteries that supply blood to heart is called coronary artery disease. Coronary artery disease is usually what causes heart attacks, the leading cause of death in the United States. Atherosclerosis of the major arteries in the legs causes a condition referred to as intermittent claudication, which is characterized by intense pain that occurs in the legs after walking even short distances.

Many studies show that individuals with high cholesterol levels are much more likely to develop atherosclerosis than people that maintain low cholesterol levels. Consequently, many preventative treatments for atherosclerosis are aimed at lowering serum cholesterol levels.

Diabetics and people with elevated triglycerides and high homocysteine are also at very high risk of developing atherosclerosis.

Heart Attack (Myocardial Infarction)

As most people already know, heart attack is the leading cause of death in the Americas and Europe. Heart attacks are caused by severe reductions in blood flow to a portion of the heart. The result of a heart attack is the death of some or all of the heart muscle cells. This is called a myocardial infarction.

Most heart attacks come as a result of prolonged hardening and narrowing of the arteries, atherosclerosis, that direct blood into the heart. While blood flow to the heart is usually restricted by atherosclerosis, it can also be caused by blood clots and by spasms of the coronary arteries.

Abnormal high levels of cholesterol, homocysteine, triglycerides, as well as angina and diabetes increase the risk of heart attack.

Congestive Heart Failure

Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a chronic condition that results when the heart muscle is unable to pump blood as efficiently as is needed. High blood pressure can cause congestive heart failure. Failure of the heart pump can also result from many other causes, such as severe anemia, hyperthyroidism, heart attacks, and arrhythmias of the heart. Caution: Congestive heart failure is a serious medical condition that requires expert medical management rather than self-treatment.

Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease encompasses a variety of conditions that affect both the heart and associated blood vessels. Most risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease can be managed, but some including age and hereditary predisposition cannot.

People at risk of cardiovascular disease include those with high cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol (known as the good cholesterol), and high LDL (known as the bad cholesterol). These factors can lead to the development of atherosclerosis, eventually leading to a heart attack.

It has also been suggested that high triglyceride and homocysteine levels may also be linked with heart disease. However, the link between these two substances and heart disease is not as well established as the link between high cholesterol and heart disease.

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, puts individuals at high risk of cardiovascular disease. The risk of cardiovascular disease increases as blood pressure rises. Glucose intolerance and diabetes may also increase the risk of heart disease.

Finally, individuals that are overweight or obese are much more likely to have additional risk factors related to heart disease, specifically hypertension, high blood sugar levels, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, and diabetes, than those who maintain a healthy weight.

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