Drugs can control symptoms, but in severe cases or after a heart attack, surgery may be the only option. Some risk factors you can change and improve upon, but some you cannot. Therefore it is vital that you make all the possible changes to your lifestyle to reduce as many risk factors as possible.
Two of the biggest causes of death in the Western world are heart disease and atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis clogs up the hearts arteries and is then known as coronary artery disease or heart disease. Heart disease may develop slowly and the first symptom may be a heart attack.
When one or both coronary arteries get blocked by deposits of atheroma, the tissue beyond that blockage no longer receive a healthy blood supply and results in the heart muscle dying due to oxygen starvation. The risk factors for heart disease are the same as those for atherosclerosis. In order to predict your risk factor your doctor will probably ask you questions about your state of health, your exercise routine, check your blood pressure and smoking habits. Some risk factors you can change and improve upon, but some you cannot. Therefore it is vital that you make all the possible changes to your lifestyle to reduce as many risk factors as possible.
The risk factors that you cannot change are: o Genetic inheritances – Heart disease can often run in families and seems to be more common in people originating/living in northern Europe. o Gender – Men under 65 years are more likely than women under 65 years to suffer heart disease. This may be as estrogen gives women protection until menopause, but after menopause they are as equally at risk as men. o Ethnicity – Certain ethnic groups have indicated a higher risk of suffering from heart disease. o Age – Heart disease is more common with increasing age. o Diabetes – Diabetics are more at risk of developing heart disease or suffering a stroke. Controlling glucose levels will lessen the risk, but it is especially important to control other risk factors too.
Risk factors that you can change are: o Smoking – Between 30 and 40 per cent of deaths from coronary artery disease can be linked to smoking, therefore the more you smoke, the higher the risk. With smoking there is no safe level, not even one cigarette a day. After giving up smoking, the risk factor of heart disease does significantly decrease, but it can take up to 20 years to reach the level of a nonsmoker. o High blood pressure – Managing your high blood pressure can reduce your level of risk, although it will always remain higher than someone with normal blood pressure. Hypertension increases your risk of heart disease. o High cholesterol levels – Doctors agree that there is a link between high levels of cholesterol in the blood and heart disease. o Obesity – Being overweight definitely affects the health of your heart and the risk of heart disease is three times more than a person of a healthy weight. o Inactivity – Participating in regular physical exercise will reduce the risk of developing heart disease quite dramatically.
In the early stages of heart disease there may be no symptoms, until the later stages. The first symptom in the later stages is usually chest pains or possible heart attack. Some people develop arrhythmia and suffer from dizziness and heart palpitations. Drugs can control symptoms, but in severe cases or after a heart attack, surgery may be the only option.