Also known as coronary artery disease, coronary heart disease is caused when the smaller blood vessels that deliver blood and oxygen to the heart become narrowed. Most of the time atherosclerosis is the main cause of coronary heart disease. Atherosclerosis is a term that describes when fatty plaques build up on the walls of the arteries. Once plaque builds up the arteries narrow preventing the blood to flow to the heart. This can cause the heart rate to slow down dramatically or even stop.
Coronary heart disease affects both men and woman and is the main killer in both sexes. Coronary heart disease becomes a great risk for men once they hit their 40’s and for women once they reach their menopausal years. There are many other risk factors that can contribute to coronary heart disease as well. People who have a history of heart disease in their family are at a greater risk for developing the same condition. Those who have high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels run a very high risk of having coronary heart disease. People who suffer from diabetes, kidney disease or a metabolic syndrome can also have an increased chance of developing heart disease.
Besides those medical risk factors, there are also a few lifestyle factors that one can change in order to lessen their chance of developing coronary heart disease. Make sure that you are not smoking or drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. Both smoking and drinking alcohol increases your risk drastically of developing heart disease. Being overweight and eating unhealthy are also very hazardous to your health. Make sure you stay at a healthy weight, exercise regularly and eat foods that are good for your body. See your doctor on a regular basis to have your blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked. Lowering high blood pressure and high cholesterol can greatly reduce your chances of developing heart disease.
It is important to know the warning signs of developing heart disease. Chest pain, tightness in the chest, shortness of breath and fatigue can all represent signs of heart disease. During times of stress or heightened activity levels the symptoms may become worse. You may also experience pain, tingling or numbness in other areas of the body such as the arms, shoulders, hands, back and under the breast bone. Excessive sweating may also be a sign of clogged arteries.
In order to determine whether or not you have coronary heart disease your doctor will order one of more tests to confirm a diagnosis. An electrocardiogram, an exercise stress test, an echocardiogram, a nuclear scan, an electron-beam computed tomography, a CT angiography test, a magnetic resonance angiography and a coronary angiography are all tests that can be performed to help a doctor determine whether or not you may have coronary heart disease.
Once your doctor has determined that you have coronary heart disease he or she may begin a course of treatments along with recommending some immediate lifestyle changes. If your coronary heart disease is being caused by a cholesterol problem, the doctor may prescribe medicine to control the levels of cholesterol. If the problem is related to blood pressure or diabetes then other medications will be prescribed. Depending on the main source of the problem, medications may vary. Along with medications that are prescribed, changing poor lifestyle habits are equally important. It is crucial for your health and safety that you follow your doctor’s orders in order to prevent a heart attack from occurring.
Coronary heart disease is a very dangerous medical condition, however when diagnosed early on you can help lessen the severity of the condition and prevent further damage from being done to your body.
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