Heart disease is one of the commonest causes of death, disability and hours at work lost in most communities. The term heart disease is a general term that covers a number of diseases, which affect the heart. This includes coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure and angina.
All about heart disease
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is a narrowing of the small blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart.
High levels of bad cholesterol and low levels of good cholesterol promote heart disease. One per cent reduction in cholesterol leads to two per cent reduction in heart attacks. Low levels of good cholesterol (HDL cholesterol) are associated with a higher chance of getting a heart attack
Coronary heart disease is usually caused by a condition called atherosclerosis, which occurs when fatty material and a substance called plaque builds up on the walls of the arteries. This causes them to get narrow. As the coronary arteries narrow, blood flow to the heart can slow down or stop, causing chest pain (stable angina), shortness of breath, heart attack, and other symptoms.
Heart disease has some very noticeable symptoms. Most victims first experience some chest pain or discomfort (angina), as the heart is not getting enough blood or oxygen. There are two main types of chest pain:
- Atypical chest pain -- often sharp and comes and goes. You can feel it in your left chest, abdomen, back, or arm. It is unrelated to exercise and not relieved by rest or a medicine called nitroglycerin. Atypical chest pain is more common in women.
- Typical chest pain -- feels heavy or like someone is squeezing you. You feel it under your breast bone (sternum). The pain usually occurs with activity or emotion, and goes away with rest or a medicine called nitroglycerin.
Other symptoms of Heart Disease are shortness of breath and possible heart attack.
- Bad genes (heredity). The risk of developing this condition is higher if someone in your family has had it before age 50. Y
- High blood pressure
- High LDL "bad" cholesterol
- Low HDL "good" cholesterol
- Not getting enough physical activity or exercise
Higher-than-normal levels of inflammation-related substances may also increase the risk for a heart attack. Such substances include C-reactive protein and fibrinogen. Increased levels of a chemical called homocysteine, an amino acid, are also linked to an increased risk of a heart attack.
What can I do?
- Daily consumption of fruits and vegetables
- Regular exercise
- Alcohol intake in moderation
- Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables every day
- Eat a variety of whole grain products
- Choose fats with 2 grams or less of saturated fats per serving
- Balance the number of calories you eat with the number of calories you use each day
- Limit your intake of foods high in calories and low in nutrients
- Eat less than 6 grams of sodium a day or not more than one teaspoon of salt.
- Have no more than one alcoholic drink a day.
- Increase intake of monounsaturated fat, omega 3 fatty acids and soluble fiber.
- It is assumed that heart disease begins in adulthood. This is not true. Teenagers can already have streaks of fat in their major arteries. Childhood obesity and diabetes are the first acts in what can be a lifelong cardiac risk.
- It is believed that if your weight is normal and your cholesterol is normal, you are safe. This is not completely true. Weight and diet are only part of the story. You need to quit smoking, exercise and control your blood pressure.
- It is thought that women get breast cancer, not heart disease. The truth is that heart disease kills far more women than breast cancer. Women past the age of menopause are at particular risk. Both men and women need to observe the same diet and lifestyle factors.
- There is a myth that cigarettes and cigars are bad for the lungs, not the heart. Smoking is associated with everything from coronary artery disease, to heart rhythm disorders, to heart failure.
- People think that if they have smoked for a long time, quitting now will not help. However, the minute you quit, you begin the process of reducing your cardiac risk, not to mention your risk of lung, bladder, mouth, breast and colon cancer.
- Smoking over 20 cigarettes per day increase the risk of heart attack by 5 times, 10 to 19 cigarettes increase the risk by 3 times and smoking less than 5 cigarettes per day increases the risk by 1.5 times.
- Bad teeth, bleeding gums and poor dental hygiene can end up causing heart disease. 
- Inclusion of pistachios in a healthy diet beneficially affects cardiovascular disease risk factors.
- Chemical in red wine, fruits and vegetables may stop cancer, heart disease, depending on the dose.
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both women and men in the United States.
- Worldwide, coronary heart disease kills more than 7 million people each year.
- 3 gm reduction in a person’s dietary intake of salt would result in over a 20 per cent drop in deaths from stroke and over a 15 per cent fall in death from heart disease.
- Separating heart disease myths from facts
- Heart Disease Facts
- Reduce salt intake for healthy life!