What causes heart disease

There are many different diseases that people must try to ward off throughout their lives. Some that immediately come to mind are Hepatitis, the flu, mono and other catchy illnesses. But there are some illnesses that you can’t catch through conventional methods. They may be passed on through certain hereditary factors, accidents, birth defects or poor eating and exercising decisions. One example of such a disease is heart disease.

What is Heart Disease?
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC), the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States is heart disease. But what exactly is heart disease? Is it diagnosed before or after a heart attack? Can it involve stroke symptoms or diabetes? The Weston A. Price Foundation, a non profit organization that is dedicated to improving the American diet by reintroducing it to nutrient dense foods, states that heart disease is actually a group of diseases that all have different origins and causes. This makes heart disease especially difficult to diagnose, treat and explain to patients in a way that they understand. It is possible that this is the reason it is still the number one killer in the United States. With a little knowledge and some effort, we may be able to change that to some extent.

Examples of Heart Disease Related Conditions
As we mentioned, heart disease is made up from various diseases that affect the heart, valves, and arteries. Some of the individual diseases included under the umbrella of heart disease include:

  • Aortic Dissection (which is basically a tear in the aorta)
  • Myocardial Infarction (also referred to as a heart attack)
  • Atherosclerosis (this is also called a hardening of the arteries)
  • Aortic Regurgitation (when blood comes back through loose valves)
  • Cardiac Arrhythmia (a rhythm disorder that causes the heart to beat too fast, too slow or without a stable pattern)

So what causes all of these disorders as well as the many that are not listed above? In short, what causes heart disease? The most important cause to consider is poor eating and exercise habits. This cause is important because it is something that you can change. Hereditary, accidental and birth defect causes are important but you have no control over them, so we are going to focus on eating and exercise habits. Of the conditions listed above, diet and exercise can help both myocardial infarction and, to some extent, atherosclerosis.

Eating and Exercise Habits
Certain heart disease conditions can be prevented when you eat a diet that is rich in fiber and low in saturated fat, triglycerides and cholesterol. This diet is mostly effective in warding off myocardial infarction, or heart attack, because heart attacks are caused by blockages in your arteries—blockages caused by saturated fat, triglycerides and cholesterol. Exercise of the aerobic type also ward off heart attacks since they can decrease your stored fat and bad (LDL) cholesterol. Both can also help atherosclerosis since they ward of diabetes which can cause or exacerbate atherosclerosis.

If you suspect you may be at risk for, or already suffering from, one of the many conditions or diseases known as heart disease, it is important that you consult your primary care physician immediately. He or she can work with you to develop proper eating and exercise habits that may help slow the progression of or even reverse your heart disease. If the disease is hereditary or due to accident or birth defect, your primary care physician may be able to prescribe medication or suggest surgery to help or correct the situation.

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Last updated on Nov 2nd, 2009 and filed under Cardiovascular Disorders. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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