Diseases of the Heart

Diseases of the Heart

Diseases of the heart probably have the most public awareness at this point in time. This is because there are many common factors that lead to heart diseases; stresses, obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes, old age are some of them. Since it is not possible to discuss each and every heart disease in this article, the article will discuss the most common acquired diseases.

At least 55% of the US nation is somehow involved in the hypertensive or pre hypertensive state. This makes hypertension the commonest co-morbid disease to affect people.

Hypertension simply means an increase in the pumping pressure of the heart and the pressure of the arteries. This could be a response due to stress, increased weight, fat deposition in the arteries, congenital heart defect or due to damage to some organs.  Hypertension is measured by sphygmomanometer.

The normal blood pressure ranges from a 90/60 mmHg to 120/80 mmHg. The upper reading/ systolic reading (90-120mmHg) shows the pumping pressure of the heart, while the lower reading/ diastolic reading (60-80) shows the resistance and pressure of the artery. A high diastolic reading is associated with atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease where the fat deposition leads to the hardening of the major arteries.

Almost all acquired heart diseases start with hypertension. In majority of the people it starts in the middle age, however, people with a strong genetic predisposition may develop high blood pressure in ages as young as 25- 30 years.

The heart initially starts to pump harder due to the loss of elasticity in the walls of the major artery, this hardening maybe due to age or fat deposition. Hypertension doesn’t show any symptoms except for when it reaches extremely high levels.

This is why hypertension is called the silent killer. Once hypertension starts, there is no end to it, this co-morbid condition could be controlled through medicines, but the treatment stays throughout the person’s lifetime.

Atherosclerosis is a condition where the arteries of the body become narrower and harder due to excessive deposition of bad cholesterol/ fat in the arteries. This bad cholesterol is called LDL (light density lipoproteins). As this fat is light, it sticks around the walls increasing the resistance of the artery and making the blood harder to flow through.

The good cholesterol HDL (heavy density lipoproteins) acts as a LDL picker, and doesn’t stick around in the arteries. Atherosclerosis usually leads to coronary heart disease, where the arteries supplying blood to the heart are affected.

Coronary heart disease shows the first symptoms of chest discomfort (angina) which usually leads to heart attack (myocardial infarction/ MI) due to the lack of oxygen to the heart muscle.

Chronic heart failure is the continuation of these diseases, if acquired. In heart failure the heart goes through irreversible increase in size which leads to either too much filling of the heart or the inability for the heart to pump the blood volume out. The weak muscle is kept up through medicines to resuscitate the heart. Chronic heart failure is seen in people that have untreated hypertension with untreated diabetes and obesity.

The conventional treatment options for heart diseases that lead to such incredible increase in life expectancy in patients with heart disease will be discussed in another article.

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