Coronary Heart Disease
Coronary Artery disease is a condition of the heart that tend to develop in your coronary arteries. These are the major blood vessels that supply your heart with blood, oxygen and nutrients that are vital to the every day operations of the heart. Deposits on your artery walls that are created by cholesterol are usually the main culprits of this kind of heart disease and is the primary cause of many heart disease symptoms. When plaques build up in your arteries, your heart tends to get less blood. Over some time, this diminished blood flow can cause a great deal of chest pain and shortness of breath. And a complete blockage can cause a serious heart attack.
Causes of Coronary Heart Disease
Because coronary heart disease can build up over many decades of poor health and lifestyle choices it can be incredibly hard to predict who will get it and when it will become serious. Another drawback of this slow build up of plaques is that the affects of heart disease build up slowly over time, and as they occur slowly, you become accustomed to them and wont notice the symptoms of heart disease until it might be too late. Coronary heart disease is believed to begin when there is damage to the inner layer of a coronary artery. This can occur as early as childhood. This damage can be caused by smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol or radiation therapy to the chest.
Once the inner wall of the artery is damaged, fatty deposits known as plaques that are made of bad cholesterol and other bodily waste products will build up on a damaged site. Once the build up starts, its accumulation of unwanted material becomes exponential. Once the surface of these plaques break, a blood clot forms. These clots are a natural response by the body to stop an unwanted leakage and prevent infection. Blood platelets build up on the rupture site and create the clot. This clot can block the artery and cause a heart attack.
Heart disease symptoms
If your coronary arteries become narrowed or blocked over time, they will not be able to supply vital nutrients to your heart. This problem will become worse if the heart is beating hard, as it will during physical activity. As these blockages become more acute you may experience:
- Shortness of breath. If you hear is not able to supply a proper amount of blood to meet the bodies needs you will experience a shortness of breath with only a minimum amount of physical exertion. This is especially true for smokers and those that are overweight.
- Chest Pain. As blockages become more serious, you may feel a pressure or tightness in your chest. It will feel like someone is actually standing on it, making it hard and painful to breathe. This pain is called angina, and can be triggered by physical and emotional stress. It can go away within a couple of minutes or may stay for a couple of hours. In some people, this pain can spread to the abdomen and lower back
- Heart Attack. If a coronary artery becomes completely blocked you will most likely experience a heart attack. The classic signs heart attacks give include a crushing pressure in your chest, pain in your left shoulder or arm, sweating and usually shortness of breath. There are of course times when a heart attack can strike without any of the preliminary signs. If you should however feel any of these signs, and you know that you are at risk for a heart attack, you should contact emergency personnel immediately.