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Coronary heart disease is the most common serious medical condition affecting people in the Western world. The disease can strike at any age, although it is more common in the elderly. It affects men and women, rich

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Coronary heart disease is the most common serious medical condition affecting people in the Western world. The disease can strike at any age, although it is more common in the elderly. It affects men and women, rich and poor, black and white.1 In the United Kingdom some 275,000 people every year will have a heart attack and around 120,000 will die, making heart disease the UK's number one health problem.2 The heart is one of the hardest working organs in the body; it contracts and expands 100,000 times everyday. It supplies a blood vessel network 96,000 kilometres long and pumps in excess of 10,000 litres of blood around the body every day. This constant stress makes it especially vulnerable to damage and disease.3 Coronary heart disease results from the coronary arteries becoming narrowed with fatty deposits on the inside wall. The fatty deposits take years to build up and this process is medically known as, atherosclerosis. The narrowing of theses arteries reduces blood flow to the heart and increases chances of a blood clot blocking the artery.4 The two most common indications of coronary heart disease are angina pectoris (chest pain) and myocardial infraction (heart attack).3 People with angina experience frequent chest pain, which is usually worse during or after exercise as the heart struggles to get the oxygen it needs.4 Angina pain occurs because blocked arteries prevent an adequate supply of oxygen and nutrients from reaching the heart. ...read more.


Carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke exerts a negative effect on the heart by reducing the blood's ability to carry oxygen. Carbon monoxide attaches to haemoglobin much more easily than oxygen does. This reduces the amount of oxygen available to the tissues. Smoking increases blood cholesterol levels. Furthermore, the ratio of HDL to LDL cholesterol is lower in smokers compared to non-smokers. All these factors make smokers more at risk of developing various forms of atherosclerotic disease. It is estimated that in the UK, just under a quarter of men who die of heart disease and just over a tenth of women do so because they smoked.1 Heart disease kills far greater numbers than lung cancer does in smokers.11 The simple thing to do is stop, it is never too late. The day after quitting, your heart starts to recover and within three years your risk of heart disease is almost the same as someone who has never smoked.1 Being obese can increase your risk of heart disease. According to the British Heart Foundation 44% of UK men and 33% of UK women are overweight but not classified as obese; a further 15% of men and 18% of women are clinically obese, meaning their weight is a threat to their health. Doctors are still uncertain why being overweight has such devastating effects on the heart, although one factor could be that overweight people are more likely to have high levels of ...read more.


Although you can not alter your genetic background, you can minimise these risks.16 Race plays a role in the development of heart disease. African-Americans develop high blood pressure at an earlier age and the disease is more severe than in white people. Many theories have been proposed to explain inequalities in the risk of developing and dying from heart disease, to date, researchers have had difficulty determining the exact reasons. One theory is that high blood pressure may be more common in African-Americans because of racial differences in the way sodium is excreted by the body; some researchers believe that blacks retain more sodium than whites, a factor that can increase blood pressure.16 A final uncontrollable factor causing heart disease is diabetes. Diabetes has damaging effects on the cardiovascular system, producing abnormalities in blood fats that may speed up the development of athersclerosis1. When it comes to heart disease risks, people with diabetes commonly receive an unfortunate 'package deal', so that instead of one heart disease risk, they have a collection.17 Although your heart is designed to last whole life, you need to take care of it. Many factors cause heart disease, but adopting a healthy lifestyle should reduce the risks. So, instead of sitting down to watch TV, go for a brisk walk or gym workout, stop smoking, reduce alcohol intake, say no to fast foods, eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables daily and above all lead a fun and stress free life. ...read more.

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