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Coronary Heart Disease, A Self Inflicted Condition ?

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T Butcher A2 Human Biology Coronary Heart Disease, A Self Inflicted Condition ? Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) is a narrowing of the coronary arteries directly restricting blood flow. It is caused by deposits of fats or "plaque" under the lining of the arteries forming an atheroma. By causing a narrowing of the lumen it makes the arteries more susceptible to being blocked by blood clots. There are a number of risk factors associated with CHD including age, gender, blood pressure, diet, genetically determined predisposition for HDL and LDL cholesterol levels, obesity, exercise, smoking, diabetes and personality traits. The health of each individuals coronary arteries will depend on a combination of these factors. So for example, an individual may exercise regularly but still develop CHD through smoking, poor diet and a genetic predisposition to high LDL cholesterol levels. So whilst not all risks are self inflicted - all cases the risk of CHD could have been minimised through avoiding unhealthy lifestyle choices. ...read more.


Places such as Italy or Spain have a low rate of CHD attributed to a diet low in saturated fats, whilst other countries that eat a diet high in animal fats generally have a high rate of CHD. The type of fat is important. Unsaturated fats such as Olive Oil are thought to pose a lower risk of CHD than saturated/animal fats such as lard or dairy produce. The problem with saturated fat is that it is used by the body to make cholesterol. This is the source of most cholesterol in the body - only a small percentage is eaten directly through the diet. Therefore it is not cholesterol in food but saturated fats that are implicated in CHD. Bad cholesterol is Low Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol (LDL) which lays down fat in the tissues - including the coronary arteries. High Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol moves cholesterol out of the body and is considered good cholesterol. A high LDL level is a risk factor in CHD - a high HDL level is inversely correlated to CHD. ...read more.


Other relevant factors are diabetes and high blood pressure. Both of these can be due to genetic susceptibility - but can also be due to lifestyle. It depends on the individual case whether these factors are self inflicted or not. High blood pressure causes the arteries to thicken narrowing the lumen and restricting blood flow. Gender is important. Pre menopausal women are protected by oestrogen - after the menopause their risk of CHD is equivalent to that of men. HRT is one way of maintaining this protective effect. You can speculate on the effect of feeding men oestrogen, perhaps it would offer a similar effect, though as a female hormone it might have unwanted side effects. Overall then CHD is sometimes self inflicted by lifestyle choices, and sometimes inherited through genetic susceptibility. It is generally going to be impossible to say it is entirely one or the other. In all cases it makes sense to make good lifestyle choices. Tests for those at particular risk would allow people that are to make more extreme lifestyle choices in order to protect themselves. It would also allow protective medical intervention at an early stage. ...read more.

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