In order to function properly, your heart needs a large and continuous stream
of oxygen-enriched blood, which is supplied directly to your heart muscle through
your coronary arteries. If your coronary arteries become clogged, blocked, inflamed,
infected, or injured, the blood flow to your heart will be reduced, which can
cause injury to your heart muscle and in turn lead to heart disease or cardiovascular
disease (CVD). Some of the more common outcomes of heart disease include myocardial
infarction, ischemic heart disease and angina, and arrhythmias.
General risk factors for heart disease
Those you can't change:
- Family history: Genetic predisposition can play a role in the development of heart disease.
Your doctor will want to know if you have a family history of heart disease.
- Age: Wear and tear on your body is cumulative. The heart is no exception.
The older you are, the more wear and tear your system will have and the greater
the risk of your system not functioning as it did when you were younger.
Those you can change:
- Smoking: Smoking reduces the blood's oxygen level, injures artery walls, and raises
your heart rate and blood pressure.
- High-fat diet: Diets high in fat, especially saturated fats, increase the risk of fatty
buildup in the arteries.
- High blood cholesterol: Cholesterol is a fatty substance required by your body to make cells.
But your body only needs a certain amount. High blood cholesterol can cause arteriosclerosis.
- Physical inactivity: Regular exercise helps to strengthen your heart muscle and keep it in
good working order.
- Hypertension or high blood pressure: Hypertension means your blood is hitting too hard against your artery
walls. High blood pressure can increase your risk of stroke, aneurysm, heart failure, heart attack, and kidney damage.
- Obesity: Being significantly overweight or obese increases your blood pressure,
causing your heart to work too hard on less oxygen, and it increases your risk of diabetes.
- Stress: Stress increases your heart rate and blood pressure, which in turn causes
damage to your arteries and heart.
- Diabetes: Men with sugar diabetes (diabetes mellitus) have three to four times
the likelihood of developing atherosclerosis, resulting in angina, heart attacks,
strokes, or peripheral vascular disease. Women with diabetes are at an even
higher risk - probably four times that of non-diabetic women.