Heart disease is a general name for describing different conditions which affect the heart. This disease is not peculiar to any gender, race, or ethnic group. According to the CDC, heart disease is the cause of one out of four deaths in the U.S. This goes to show how prevalent the disease is. Some of the most common heart diseases include coronary heart disease, congenital heart defects, arrhythmia, dilated cardiomyopathy, to name a few.
“Prevention is better than cure.” But, the first step is to understand what you want to prevent. So, let’s talk about some of the common causes of heart disease, how to manage them, and the links between obesity and heart disease, diabetes and heart disease, high blood pressure and heart disease, and many more.
Obesity & Heart Disease
Obesity is one of the common causes of heart disease and a risk factor for several health issues such as diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. As you’ll soon find out, these health issues themselves have a connection to heart diseases.
Obesity could lead to an increase in bad cholesterol and triglyceride levels while reducing your high-density lipoproteins (HDL) cholesterol, which is known as good cholesterol. A reduction in HDL isn’t good for your heart health because this cholesterol helps to remove bad cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease.
There is also a link between obesity and heart disease. Those who are obese have a higher likelihood of developing diabetes which increases the risk of heart disease. Another way obesity and heart disease share a link is that an obese person requires more blood to supply oxygen and nutrients throughout your body. In this case, there is an increase in your blood pressure, and high blood pressure is a common culprit leading to a heart attack.
Being overweight or obese is directly linked to hypertension and an enlarged left ventricle, which increases the risk of heart failure, showing another correlation between obesity and heart disease.
Diabetes & Heart Disease
The American Heart Association has found that at least 68 percent of people aged 65 and above with diabetes also have heart disease. The statistics show a strong link between diabetes and heart disease, but this isn’t even limited to people advanced in age. How does diabetes negatively affect your heart health, you wonder. Well, over time, high blood sugar causes damage to your blood vessels and the nerves controlling your heart.
Typically, your body tissues use sugar as a source of energy stored in your liver as a form of glycogen. However, if you have diabetes, sugar can remain in your bloodstream and eventually leak out of your liver and into your blood. It is what subsequently damages your blood vessels and the nerves controlling them.
Also, your blood stops supplying oxygen and nutrients to your heart when you have a blocked coronary artery, showing a link between diabetes and heart disease.
If you have diabetes, there is also a higher chance that you’ll have other medical conditions that can increase your risk of heart disease. In fact, those with diabetes have a higher tendency to develop heart disease at a younger age than those without diabetes.
Adults with diabetes are almost twice as likely to have heart disease or stroke as adults who don’t have diabetes. Generally, the American Heart Association has confirmed that if you have diabetes, your risk of developing cardiovascular disease is more than double that of the general population. All these demonstrate a strong link between diabetes and heart disease.
Smoking & Heart Disease
Smoking is one lifestyle habit that has adverse effects on different aspects of your well-being. You’ve probably heard about its detrimental effects on your lungs and how it causes breathing problems. Beyond those, smoking can also expose you to heart disease.
Smoking is one of the common causes of heart disease, and it contributes to approximately 20% of deaths caused by heart disease in the U.S. Note that even with secondhand smoking, you also have a level of exposure to heart disease.
Cigarettes contain nicotine which brings less oxygen to your heart. It increases your blood pressure and heart rate and damages the cell lining of your coronary arteries and other blood vessels.
Breathing in the smoke also means you inhale a toxic mix of over 7,000 chemicals present in cigarette smoke which can interfere with some essential processes that keep your body functioning normally.
The process of delivering oxygen-rich blood to your heart and other parts of your body is one such process. However, in cases where you breathe in cigarette smoke, the blood distributed around your body is already contaminated with chemicals. These chemicals can cause damage not only to your heart but also to your blood vessels.
Note: Your chances of developing heart disease increase with the number of cigarettes you smoke. For instance, smoking a pack of cigarettes daily makes you twice as likely to develop a heart attack as someone who does not smoke.
High Cholesterol & Heart Disease
No doubt, your body needs cholesterol to build healthy cells. However, too much of anything is bad, without any exception. A high cholesterol level is one of the common causes of heart disease.
When you have a high cholesterol level, it leads to fatty deposits in your blood vessels. An increase in these deposits makes it difficult for enough blood to flow through your arteries. You can already guess what this results in—heart disease. Also, the deposits can break down suddenly, leading to deposits clot, which can cause a heart attack.
Another way too much cholesterol can be detrimental is that it builds up in the walls of your arteries when it gets into your blood, leading to atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is the buildup of fats, cholesterol, and other substances in and on your artery walls, and this buildup is known as plaque. Plaque causes your arteries to narrow and blocks blood flow.
Your blood is responsible for transporting oxygen to your heart, and in a case where the blood is not enough and the oxygen still reaches your heart, it could cause you to have chest pain. When there’s a total blockage, it could cause a heart attack.
High Blood Pressure & Heart Disease
Blood pressure means the pressure of blood that pushes against the walls of your arteries. High blood pressure (HBP), also known as hypertension, happens when your blood pressure is higher than average. Hypertension increases your risk of heart diseases and can cause damage to your arteries, making them less elastic. Where this happens, it reduces blood and oxygen flow to your heart, eventually leading to heart disease. Also, when there is a decrease in the blood flow to your heart, it can cause chest pain (angina).
In addition, high blood pressure can also cause left ventricular hypertrophy, which can lead to heart failure. Left ventricular hypertrophy is a condition that occurs with the thickening of your heart muscles resulting in less effective muscle relaxation between heartbeats.
It becomes difficult for your heart to get filled with enough blood to supply your organs when this happens. Also, it causes your body to retain more fluids and leads to an increase in your heart rate. Ischemic heart disease is another heart disease resulting from high blood pressure. This heart disease occurs when the heart muscle is not getting sufficient blood.
Poor Diet & Heart Disease
Poor diet exposes you to the risk of heart diseases in different ways. Remember what we said about how high cholesterol can expose you to a heart attack and other heart-related conditions? Well, a diet containing high saturated and trans fat can cause a buildup of cholesterol IK your arteries.
A diet with high salt content can cause high blood pressure and increase your risk of heart disease because of its sodium content. In addition, packaged and processed foods always contain high salt content. The fact that the food isn’t tasting salty doesn’t mean its sodium content isn’t doing so much damage to your heart health.
Prevent, Halt & Reverse Heart Disease
We’ve spoken so much about the common causes of heart disease. However, we wouldn’t be helping you if we didn’t tell you what to do to prevent heart disease. Some of the best ways to prevent heart disease would have you make some lifestyle changes. These changes include the following:
- Avoid smoking
- Eat a heart-healthy diet, i.e., diets rich in vegetables and fruits, whole grains, beans, and other legumes.
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Try to be active as much as possible
- Try to go for regular body scans
A regular body scan is essential because some risk factors such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure show no symptoms. Hence, routine screening can help you detect early signs. This remains one of the best ways to prevent heart disease. Craft Body Scan is here to offer you world-class, full-body scan services, including a CT Heart Scan.