“Awareness about heart disease has got to be raised.” Vinnie Jones
Heart disease is a gift of the modern day stress and thoughtless diet. This disease strikes sooner than expected these days. Age is no bar. As per the data, 4 to 10% of all heart disease occurs before the age of 45 years.
What is the heart disease?
As per the definition of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Coronary heart disease is the main form of heart disease. It is a disorder of the blood vessels of the heart that can lead to heart attack. A heart attack happens when an artery becomes blocked, preventing oxygen and nutrients from getting to the heart.
This Heart Attack video shows what happens when the heart is attacked.
How it happens?
As per the BiologyGuide, The most common cause is a blood clot. A blood clot is called a thrombus and the process of forming a blood clot, thrombosis. If a clot forms in the coronary arteries it is called coronary thrombosis.
A process known as atherosclerosis increases the tendency of thrombosis within arteries. Essentially it is a build-up of fatty deposits within and a thickening of the wall of the arteries, making the wall less elastic and preventing blood flow thus encouraging the formation of blood clots. Few causes of atherosclerotic plaques:
- Cholesterol is transported around the body in lipoproteins (LDLs).Excess cholesterol leaks from lipoproteins (LDLs)
- Deposited on arterial walls
- Macrophages (white blood cells) are trapped within cholesterol
- Release free radicals which damage the arterial wall
- Activates blood platelets which stick to damaged areas releasing clotting factors (thromboxanes)
- Forms a plaque which may rupture to produce a thrombus
- Circulating thrombus is called an embolus
- Embolus may lodge elsewhere in the circulation (brain – cause a stroke, coronary arteries – cause a heart attack, lungs – cause a pulmonary embolism)
See this video to know how Cholesterol clogs arteries.
What are the symptoms?
David Newby, British Heart Foundation John Wheatley Professor of Cardiology at the BHF Centre for Research Excellence at the University of Edinburgh lists 11 symptoms of possible heart disease. These are;
- Chest Pain
- Stomach Pain
- Feeling Sick
- Feeling Sweaty or Extreme Fatigue
- Leg Pain
- Arm Pain
- Jaw or Back Pain
- Choking Sensation
- Swollen Ankles
- Irregular Heart Beat
Be watchful. Timely action can prevent major damage and fatal attack.
How to prevent the heart disease?
In order to reduce the chances of heart disease, research suggests some proactive action. Usually, we wake up when it’s too late. However ‘A stitch in time saves nine’ is a well-known phrase we all conveniently ignore. This ignorance of negligence ends up with stitches in our body after bypass surgery. Mayo Clinic recommends following measures;
- Don’t smoke or use tobacco and limit alcohol consumption
- Exercise minimum 30 minutes a day. No to sedentary lifestyle
- Eat heart-healthy diet
- Avoid heart-damaging diet
- Maintain the right weight, Avid getting overweight or obese
- Get quality sleep
- Avoid stress, meditate daily
- Control Blood Pressure
- Control Cholesterol
- Get regular health screening. This is very important.
How to reverse the heart disease?
Dr. Dean Ornish is known for reserving heart disease without Angioplasty and bypass surgery. His book Reversing Heart Disease is a seminal work on the subject.
“Think about it: Heart disease and diabetes, which account for more deaths in the U.S. and worldwide than everything else combined, are completely preventable by making comprehensive lifestyle changes. Without drugs or surgery.” Dean Ornish
He recommends four aspects to manage in order to reverse the heart disease:
- Nutrition: Eat nutrition rich food and avoid non-nutritious processed food. Stop smoking/Alcohol.
- Stress Management: Manage stress consciously, learn relaxing techniques, Do meditation.
- Fitness: Physical activity is very important. Moderate exercise daily is highly recommended.
- Love and Support: Give and receive emotional support to help unlock the healing power of community. This is good for the heart.
Avoid anything which accelerates the heart disease. Do everything which reverses the heart disease. Do all these religiously. The result will surprise you.
Now, suppose you have reached a point where you have to decide which mode is better for the treatment of heart disease, Bypass surgery or Angioplasty. Here is guidance from experts.
Bypass or Angioplasty?
Though this is a doctor’s call, yet having some basic understanding is necessary. In an article Bypass or angioplasty with stenting: How do you choose? Published on Harvard Medical School, “The question of stent versus bypass surgery is really for those patients who have multivessel disease involving all three coronary arteries,” Dr. Cutlip says. “This accounts for about a quarter to a third of patients with coronary disease.”
And this question has an answer—bypass surgery—as long as the individual’s surgery risk isn’t too high.
The most important artery is left anterior descending artery (LAD). Bypass surgery usually is the best choice for a blocked LAD. If the LAD is not blocked, and there are no other complicating factors, stents are more likely to be used, even if both of the other arteries are blocked.”
Ask your doctor which arteries are blocked? Immediate stenting is a fashion these days. Patients and their relatives also opt for Angioplasty in order to avoid the surgery. Do not take a short-term view. Go for the long-term durable option.
The best option, however, is do everything to prevent the heart disease. It’s possible. Do lifestyle changes before alternatively lifestyle changes after the disease are mandatory.
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