Ask a few well informed people over the age of fifty: What are they afraid of the most? Four out of five would answer: Sudden death due to heart attack. Heart attack is becoming a common cause of death after the age of fifty. Heart attach is preventable to a large extent and we know how to prevent it. We also know that by these measures people have already brought down death and ill-effects caused by it.
Heart receives blood for its own nourishment from coronary arteries, the two blood vessels that are the first to come off the aorta and lie embedded in the heart muscle itself.
The important factors that accelerate coronary artery narrowing are:
1. Excess of fats and cholesterol in the blood: Fats are made up of different fatty acids and glycerol. Cholesterol is a type of fat. Surplus of fats are stored as such in different parts of the body. A high level of cholesterol in the blood, particularly if it is held in combination in the form of LDL globules, leads to irs deposition in the walls of the blood vessels. Coronary artery disease, blood cholesterol level, and the amount of fat taken in the diet usually go hand in hand.
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2. High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Blood pressure is the pressure exerted by the blood against the walls of the arteries through which it flows. With high blood pressure, blood vessels do not relax to receive the blood from heart. Hence, the heart has to work harder against this resistance. This strains the heart, so that it ultimately fails to perform its function of pumping the blood to all parts of the body.
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3. Over-Weight: A person starts gaining weight after the age of 25, unless he does something about the food he eats. The reason is that, beginning at this age, the body starts to need less food because the metabolism is slowing down. Obesity is a disorder closely associated with other potent risk factors, ie hyperlipidaemia, hyperglycemia and hypertension.
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4. Diabetes Mellitus: Diabetes may be defined as high level of glucose in the blood, so that some of it overflows into the urine. Usually it is due to deficiency of insulin. Diabetes causes a lot of complications, an important one being the narrowing of the blood vessels called atherosclerosis. Coronary artery disease is common in diabetics. Also, heart attacks in diabetics occur at a younger age than they do in non-diabetics.
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5. Smoking: It has been suggested that Nicotine repeatedly over-stimulates the heart. The carbon monoxide absorbed into the blood takes the place of oxygen and hampers nourishment of the heart muscle and other tissues. The smoke damages the lining of the coronary arteries, allowing artery clogging cholesterol to build up and narrow the passage ways.
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Narrowing of the coronary arteries is caused by a process called atherosclerosis. In this, the inner lining of the medium-sized and large arteries raises, yellow or has pearly whites streaks or plaques.
The bitter truth is, Heart attacks do not respect time, place or circumstances. These can happen to anyone anytime. So get moving and work for it.