Coronary heart disease (CHD), also called coronary artery disease, affects about 14 million men and women in the United States.
Disease develops when a combination of fatty material, calcium, and scar tissue (plaque) builds up in the arteries that supply the heart with blood. Through these arteries, called the coronary arteries, the heart muscle (myocardium) gets the oxygen and other nutrients it needs topump blood.
The most devastating sign of coronary heart disease is abrupt, unexpected cardiac arrest.
- Cardiac arrest commonly occurs in people who have had previous heart attacks, but it may occur as the first symptom of heart disease.
- Most people exhibit some symptom or discomfort.
- Symptoms usually occur during exercise or activity because the heart muscle's increased demand for nutrients and oxygen is not being met by the blockedcoronary blood vessel.
More common symptoms of coronary heart disease include the following. No one person usually has all of these symptoms.
Restricted blood flow causes shortness of breath and severe chest pains. Chest pains generally become more severe during periods of physical activity when the heart needs increased blood flow to function properly.
Damage to the heart tissue and inadequate blood flow interferes with the heart's electric impulses, thereby causing abnormal heart rhythm.
Blocked arteries are often caused by a rupture of cholesterol plaque; when combined with inhibited blood flow, patients tend to suffer heart attacks.
Heart failure is caused by decreased blood that allows the heart to go without oxygen and nutrients for frequent periods or the damage sustained during a heart attack. Each instance causes the heart to fail because it is too weak to pump sufficient amounts of blood to the body.
Tips and comments:
You can slow or even prevent coronary artery disease by taking steps toward a healthier lifestyle. Many people already have. More people are adopting healthy habits such as eating right, exercising more, and not smoking. Doing these things can also help reduce risk factors such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
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