The most common type of heart disease in adults is coronary artery disease, often abbreviated as CAD. CAD is caused by atherosclerosis, which is the medical term for hardening of the arteries. What makes your arteries hardened? Children’s arteries are generally clear, elastic and flexible, but as we get older, deposits of fat, cholesterol, calcium, blood clots and other junk builds up along the artery walls.
To get an idea of what this is like, think of the plumbing in an old house with hard water. Water flows through the pipes, but it leaves deposits of minerals behind. Eventually, the faucet will begin to take longer than usual to turn on, and the water that does come out will be copper-colored for a minute or so due to the minerals clogging the pipe. In this analogy, of course, the pipes represent your arteries. Blood flows through them, but it also leaves deposits behind.
Knowing this, the next logical question becomes, “what causes plaque to build up in the first place.?” Plaque builds up as a response to damage to the arterial walls. During the body’s natural healing process, plaque forms like a scar where arterial damage was located. Damage to the arterial walls can be caused by anyone of the following:
Bad news for those who smoke: smoking cigarettes doesn’t just affect your lungs and your teeth. It also increases your risk of heart disease. The chemicals in cigarette smoke can damage the walls of your blood vessels, leading to atherosclerosis.
Even worse, nicotine increases blood clotting. Remember, blood clots often form where plaque breaks off the artery wall, stopping up blood flow and causing a heart attack. Also, smoking increases your blood pressure and reduces the amount of oxygen that gets to your heart.
Cholesterol is a natural substance that your body uses to perform many essential functions, such as making cell membranes and manufacturing the bile acid that helps you digest fat. However, your body does not require very much cholesterol to perform these functions. Most of us are able to produce plenty of cholesterol on our own, and we also obtain it from our diets.
Cholesterol cannot move through our bodies under its own power. Instead, it hitches a ride on substances called lipoproteins. The type of lipoprotein that a molecule of cholesterol is attached to determines whether is is good cholesterol or bad cholesterol. High-density lipoproteins are the good guys. They carry HDL cholesterol, which actually cleans the artery walls of your arteries on its way back to the liver. Low-density lipoproteins are the bad guys. they carry LDL cholesterol,which smears across your artery walls and accumulates, particularly in areas that have been inflamed or damaged. Cholesterol’s purpose in the arterial system is to patch the areas of perforation or damage which is the result of abrasive circulating substances such as Chlorine, Artificial Sweeteners, and high levels of Fat and sugar (HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP). High levels of LDL cholesterol have been associated with increased incidents of heart disease and heart attacks.
High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure increase your risk of heart disease. When your blood pressure is too high, your heart is on overdrive all the time. Your heart is the one muscle in your body that never sleeps, so if it has to work harder than it should it can get damaged. Also some arteries can become narrow solely due to high blood pressure.
High levels of emotional stress have been shown to raise cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Also, some studies show that heart attacks increase after a severely stressful event, such as the death of a spouse or loved one. In addition, stress can also raise your adrenaline levels, which increases clotting. Of course, some stress can be beneficial and enjoyable, stimulating you to be more competitive at work and play. This kind of stress is not implicated in heart disease. Also, even when it comes to bad stress, it’s not necessarily the stress itself that’s the problem. How you deal with the stress is just as important. Try not to let things get under your skin.
Obesity is yet another factor that can contribute to to the risk of developing both coronary artery disease and other heart diseases. This was illustrated in a recent study known as the Framingham Heart Study. In this study, participants were observed for a period of 14 years and monitored for a variety of different risk factors for heart disease. The result? Obesity increased the risk of heart failure by 104%!
Another study, this one conducted by the University of Michigan, showed that participants who were considered obese developed coronary artery disease faster than participants with normal bodyweight, even when other risk factors were the same. Additionally, obesity is known to cause the wall of the left ventricle to become thickened so that it cannot pump as effectively. This can lead directly to heart failure.
Lack of physical activity is also a risk factor for heart disease. This is mainly because being a couch potato intensifies several other risk factors. For example, getting enough exercise helps keep you from becoming obese. Also, it can increase the levels of good cholesterol in your bloodstream and may inhibit the production of bad cholesterol. Additionally, it helps reduce stress. Regular exercise also has a beneficial effect on your cardiovascular system, training your heart to work harder with less effort.
In addition to be caused by any combination of the factors listed above, heart disease can also just happen as part of the normal aging process. However, it’s still important to take the risk factors in account. Not only do these factors increase your risk of heart disease, they also increase your risk of getting heart disease at a younger age. There is a world of difference between getting heart disease when your 100, and having a heart attack when you are only 45.