Thursday, December 13, 2012

What is Heart Disease?

Heart DiseaseThe basic mechanism of heart disease is a buildup of cholesterol-laden plaque (a fatty deposit) inside the coronary arteries, the blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood to the heart. Plaque narrows the inner channel of the vessels and makes them less flexible. This process is called atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. As normal blood flow to your heart is restricted, you may experience angina (chest pain). If a clot forms or lodges inside a narrowed artery, it can completely cut off blood flow and cause a heart attack. Heart disease is often “silent”—producing no symptoms—until it causes a heart attack.

Who is at risk for heart disease?

Both your genes and your lifestyle habits contribute to heart disease. To calculate your risk, give yourself 1 point for each of the following risk factors:

What you can't control
  • Age. Over age 55 for women.
  • Gender. Men are more vulnerable to heart disease than women.
  • Postmenopausal status. Women’s risk increases sharply after menopause.
  • Family history of heart disease.
  • Personal history of a heart attack.
  • Ethnicity – people of African, Latin American, or Asian descent.

What you can control
  • Smoking or regular exposure to second-hand smoke.
  • Low-density lipoprotein, or LDL (“bad” cholesterol), above 4.2 mmol/L.
  • High-density lipoprotein, or HDL, below 0.9 mmol/L.
  • High blood pressure (over 140/90 mmHg).
  • High triglyceride level (over 5.2 mmol/L).
  • Diabetes.
  • Chronic stress or depression.
  • Physical inactivity.
  • Obesity.
  • High intake of saturated fat.
  • Low intake of heart-smart foods.

Subtract 1 point if you have high levels of HDL cholesterol (over 0.9 mmol/L). Then add up your total score. A score of 0 to 2 points puts you at low to moderate risk of heart disease. A score of 3 or more points means you’re at high risk. See your doctor now for an evaluation. And start making some lifestyle changes. 

source : besthealthmag

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