February is eventually here and is designated as the American Heart Month! Unfortunately, heart diseases are the leading causes of death in the United States. According to a report published by the American Heart Association (AHA) 121.5 million adults in the U.S. have some kind of a cardiovascular disease. By heart disease we imply all those conditions that affect your heart such as impaired blood vessels, coronary artery disease, arrhythmias or congenital heart defects. The term “cardiovascular disease” is used alternatively to “heart disease” and refers to conditions related to narrowed or blocked blood vessels. Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) could lead to a heart attack, stroke or chest pain. But which are the causes leading to a cardiovascular disease?
To begin with, cholesterol (bad LDL), can ‘clog up’ the arteries that feed your heart and brain. By ‘clogging-up’ we mean the build-up of fatty plaques in your arteries (atherosclerosis). These plaques harden and narrow the inner lining of the arteries making it harder for the blood to flow by restricting normal blood flow. As the plaques build up, they form a bump on the arterial wall known as a blood clot. Blood clots are dangerous since they cause blood blockage which in turn can lead to a stroke, arterial rupture or additional heart problems. It should be noted that apart from cholesterol, smoking and high blood pressure are also leading factors for CVD.
High blood pressure is a ‘silent killer’ since it does not have any evident symptoms. At the same time, it is a risk factor for a heart attack, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure and premature cardiovascular death. Shockingly, according to the AHA, 116.4 million of U.S. adults are estimated to have hypertension and by 2035 more than 130 million adults (45.1 % of the population) are estimated to have some form of CVD.
Similarly, smoking can have detrimental consequences on heart health. According to reports, 1 in 6 males and 1 in 7 females in the U.S. are current smokers. Although tobacco use among adults seems to have decreased, e-cigarette use has increased among adolescents, which is equally worrisome. Stress, diabetes, obesity and lack of exercise are risk factors for atherosclerosis and CVD too. According to research, 80% of Americans fail to meet recommended amounts of exercise. The Federal Health and Human Services Department suggests that adults should be getting at least two hours of aerobic physical activity weekly while the children from 7 to 17 years old at least 60 minutes of moderate vigorous physical activity daily.
The good news is that all the risk factors for heart disease have the same denominator; they can be minimized and controlled. Health specialists and scientists suggest that a healthy diet, more regular exercise, abstaining from tobacco products, reducing and managing stress are vital for CDV prevention. In any case, it is important to remember that to feel good from your head to your feet, you should be keeping a healthy heart beat!