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Heart disease occurs due to a defect, whether in the arteries or muscle, affecting the health of the heart in general and the whole body. Cardiovascular diseases are divided into three groups: arterial disease, heart valve disease and myocardial disease, each of which has different risks, symptoms and treatments.
Arterial disease is responsible for the majority of heart attacks, while heart valve disease requires valve replacement after thorough diagnosis of the condition. Myocardial disease occurs due to a viral infection affecting the muscle and not the arteries.
Coronary heart disease
Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease. It is a disease in which a waxy substance called plaque builds up inside the coronary arteries.
These arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to your heart muscle. You can help prevent coronary heart disease by taking steps toward a heart-healthy lifestyle. A heart-healthy lifestyle can also help you reduce risk factors such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Risk factors for coronary artery disease include older age, family history, smoking, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol levels, diabetes, overweight or obesity, physical inactivity and high stress.
Coronary arteries supply blood to the heart muscle. Like all other tissues in the body, the heart muscle needs oxygen-rich blood to function. Once the inner wall of an artery is damaged, fatty deposits (plaque) made of cholesterol and other cellular waste products tend to accumulate at the site of injury in a process called atherosclerosis. If the surface of the plaque breaks or ruptures, blood cells called platelets will clump at the site to try to repair the artery. This clump can block the artery, leading to a heart attack. If your coronary arteries narrow, they can’t supply enough oxygen-rich blood to your heart — especially when it’s beating hard, such as during exercise.
At first, the decreased blood flow may not cause any coronary artery disease symptoms. As plaque continues to build up in your coronary arteries, however, you may develop coronary artery disease signs and symptoms, including chest pain (angina), shortness of breath and heart attack.
Treatment for coronary artery disease usually involves lifestyle changes and, if necessary, drugs and certain medical procedures. Making a commitment to the following healthy lifestyle changes can go a long way toward promoting healthier arteries; you should quit smoking, eat healthy foods, exercise regularly, lose excess weight and reduce stress.
Arteriosclerosis occurs when the blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients from your heart to the rest of your body (arteries) become thick and stiff — sometimes restricting blood flow to your organs and tissues. Healthy arteries are flexible and elastic, but over time, the walls in your arteries can harden, a condition commonly called hardening of the arteries. Atherosclerosis refers to the buildup of fats, cholesterol and other substances in and on your artery walls (plaques), which can restrict blood flow. Hardening of the arteries occurs over time. Besides aging, factors that increase the risk of atherosclerosis include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, smoking, a family history of early heart disease, lack of exercise and an unhealthy diet.
Lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet and exercising, are often the most appropriate treatment for atherosclerosis. Sometimes, surgical procedures or medications may be recommended as well such as cholesterol medications, anti-platelet medications among other things.