Heart Disease

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Heart Disease

 

Is One of the Two Biggest Killers of Americans; "Organized Medicine" being the other.

Let's see why:
heart-disease-1

 Basic graphic of the human Heart.

 

*The following data was drawn from the MAYO Clinic.

DEFINITION:
Heart disease is a very broad term used to describe a host of diseases that adversely affect a person's heart and in some cases, a person's blood vessels. The actual term "heart disease" is often used interchangeably with "cardiovascular disease" - a term that gererally refers to conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack, chest pain (angina) or a stroke. Other heart conditions, such as infections and conditions that affect your heart's muscle, valves or beating rhythm also are considered forms of heart disease.

Heart disease is the #1 killer of humans worldwide now (see below), not just in the United States. Alarmingly, heart disease is repsonsible for 40% of all deaths in the U.S., more than all the cancers combined. The good news is that much of this death and disability can be prevented or rehabilitated such that the person in jeopardy can recover fully.

heart-disease-2

 Crushing chest pain is the second most common symptom of a heart attack. Death is the first.

HEART DISEASE FACTS AND STATISTICS: *From the CDC
-Heart Disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S.

-In 2005, 652,091 people died of heart disease (50.5% of them women, interestingly). This was 27.1% of all U.S. deaths. The age-adjusted death rate 222 per 100,000 population.

-Heart Disease is the leading cause of death for American Indians and Alaska Natives, blacks, Hispanics and whites. For Asians and Pacific Islanders, cancer is the leading cause of death, Heart Disease is a close second in these cases.

-Heart Disease crude death rates per 100,000 population for the five largest U.S. racial/ethnic groups are as follows: Hispanics, 69.2; Asians and Pacific Islanders, 73; American Indians, 82.5; blacks, 189.8; whites, 235.5.

-By State, age-adjusted death rates per 100,000 for diseases of the heart ranged from 141.1 (Minnesota) to 306.8 (Mississippi) in 2005.

-Coronary Heart Disease is the principle type of heart disease. In 2005, 445,687 people died of CHD. That's about 68.3% of all heart diseases deaths.

-It is estimated that about 47% of cardiac deaths occur before emergency services or any kind of transport can get folks to the hosptial.

-In 2009, Heart Disease is projected to cost more that $304.6 BILLION, including health care services, meds, and lost productivity.

-Worldwide, Coronary Heart Disease killed more than 7.6 million people in 2005.

-Risk factors will be discussed again on this WEB page, but this list is for young adults for years 2004-2004 unless noted otherwise:
 
Percentage of persons aged 20 years and older with hypertension or taking hypertension meds: 32.1%
  Percentage of persons aged 20 years and older with high blood cholesterol: 16.9%
  Percentage  "           "          "              "             with physician-diagnosed diabetes: 10%
  Percentage  "           "          "              "             who are obese: 32%
  Percentage of adults aaged 18 years or older who are current cigarette smokers (2004-2006):  18.4%
  Percentage  "          "           "              "          who engage in no leisure-time physical activity (2006): 39.5%

-In 2003, approximately 37% of adults reported having two or more of six risk factors for heart disease and stroke (high BP, high cholesterol, diabetes, current smoking, physical inactivity and obesity).

-Timely access to ermergency cardiac care and survival is partly dependent on early recognition of heart attack symptoms and immediate action by calling EMS. In a 2005 survey, most persons (92%) recognized chest pain as a heart attack symptom, but only 27% correctly classified all symptomsd and knew to call 911 when someone was having a heart attack.

-Studies among people with heart disease have shown that lowering high blood cholesterol and high BP can reduce the risk of dying of heart disease, having a nonfatal heart attack, and needing heart bypass surgery or angioplasty.

-Studies among people without heart disease have shown that lowering high blood cholesterol and high BP can reduce the risk of developing heart diesease.

HOW THE HEART WORKS:  *Mayo Clinic
It's best to have a basic understanding of how the heart works to better understand Heart Disease. The human heart is a pump. It's a muscular organ just left center of the breast plate. The heart is divided into a left and right side. This division protects oxygen-rich blood from mixing with oxygen-poor blood. Oxygen-poor blood, aka "blue blood" returns to the heart from the rest of the body after having circulated through all aspects of the body.

The right side of the heart, which is composed of the right atrium and right ventrical collects and pumps blood to the lungs through the "pulmonary arteries." The lungs refresh the blood with a new supply of fresh Oxygen, making it turn red in color. This Oxygen rich blood then enters the left side of the heart, composed of the left atrium and left ventricle, and is subsequently pumped through the Aorta to the body to supply tissues throughout the body with Oxygen and nutrients.

There are four valves inside your heart that keep your blood moving the correct way and stops leakage of blood from one side of the heart to the other. They are; the tricuspid, mitral, pulmonary, and aortic valves. They work like gates on a fence. They open only one way and only when pushed on. Each valve opens and closes once per heart beat.

A beating heart contracts and relaxes. Contraction is called "systole," and relaxation is called "diastole." During systole, the ventricles contract, forcing blood into the vessels going to your lungs and body. The right ventricle contracts a little bit before the left ventricle does. Your ventricles then relax during diastole and are filled with blood coming from the upper chambers, the right and left atria. The cycle then starts over again.

Your heart also has electrical wiring, which keeps the beating going. Electrical impulses begin high in the right atrium and travel through specialized pathways to the ventricles, delivering the signal to pump. the conduction system keeps your heart beating in a coordinated and normal rhythm, which in turn keeps blood circulating. the continuous exchange of Oxygen-rich blood with Oxygen -poor blood is what keeps us alive.

CAUSES OF HEART DISEASE: * Mayo Clinic
Cardiovascular Disease can often refer to many different types of heart or blood vessel problems, the term is most often used to indicated damage caused to your heart or blood vessels by a process called "atherosclerosis." This is a buildup of fatty plaques in your arteries. This is a diseast that affects a person's arteries. Afteries are the blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients from your heart to the rest of your body. Healthy arteries are flexible and strong.

heart-disease-3

 Enlarged Graphic of Atherosclerosis.

Over the course of time however, too much pressure in your arteries can make the walls of the artery thick, stiff and less elastic. If enough fat builds up at a particular spot along with an artery's loss of elasticity, a total blockage can occur to a certain organ or tissue in the body. A more common term for all of this is "hardening of the arteries." Atheroscerlosis is the most common form for this disorder. Atherosclerosis is also the most common cause of cardiovascular disease, and it is caused by an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, being overweight and smoking. All of these are MAJOR risk factors heart disease.

heart-disease-4

>Overweight, Poor Diet, Excessive Alcoho/Caffeine, Drug Abuse, Stress, Lack of Exercise, Certain Over the Counter Meds: Are ALL HUGE Risk factors for Atheroscerlosis.

In a healthy person with a normal, healthy diet, it is very unlikely that a fatal arrhythmia would develope without some outside triggering process such as an electrical shock or the use of illicit drugs. The truth is, health hearts last a lot longer and are strong enough to withstand mild forms of the abuses just listed.

RISK FACTORS LISTED IN DETAIL:

  • AGE: Simply getting older increases your risk of damaged and narrowed arteries and weakened or thickened heart muscle, which contributes to Heart Disease.
  • SEX: Men are generally at greater risk of Heart Disease. However, the risk for a woman increases markedly after menopause.
  • FAMILY HISTORY: A family history of heart disease increases your risk of coronary artery disease, especially if a parent developed it at an early age (before 55 for a male relative such as your brother or father adn 65 for a femake relative such as your mother or sister).
  • SMOKING: Nicotine constricts your blood vessels, and carbon monoxide can damage their inner lining, making them more susceptible to atherosclerosis. Heart attacks are more common in smokers than in nonsmokers.
  • POOR DIET: A diet that's high in fat, salt and cholesterol can contribute to the developement of Heart Disease.
  • HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE: Uncontrolled high blood pressure can result in hardening and thickening of the arteries, narrowing of the vessels through which blood flows.
  • DIABETES: Diabetes increases your risk of Heart Disease. Both conditions share similar risk factors, such as obesity and High BP.
  • OBESITY: Excess weight typically worsens other risk factors. Remember, for every extra pound of fat we lug around, the body creates 2 miles of cappillaries (small blood vessels) to bring blood to that tissue. So think about it: a person is 40 pounds overweight which means there are 80 miles of blood cappilaries the heart must pump blood through on EVERY BEAT! This is called peripheral resistance and causes an immense work load on the heart. This one issue causes the majority of Americans to drop dead.
  • PHYSICAL INACTIVITY: Lack of exercise also is associated with many forms of heart disease and some of its other risk factors as well.
  • HIGH STRESS: Unrelieved stress in a person's life can damagae your arteries as well as trash the immune system all of which make a person more vulnerable to Heart Disease.
  • POOR HYGIENE: Not regularly washing your hands and other habits can would normally help control invading bacteria and virus into your body can put you at a higher risk of Heart Disease via infections and systemic poisoning. Research has shown that poor dental hygiene can lead to increased heart disease due to all the bacteria in the mouth that makes its way directly into the blood stream via saliva.

*As of 3/2011: According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cardiovascular diseases are the world's largest killers, claiming 17.1 million lives a year Worldwide. Billions of dollars are spent every year on medical devices and drugs to treat them. Lifestyle factors already discussed are known to increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes, but scientists also have been examining DNA maps to find genes that may also put people at higher cardiovascular risk.

For this study, published along with two additional papers on heart disease risk variants in the Journal Nature Genetics, an international consortium analyzed data from 14 previous genome-wide association studies, which scan people's genetic profiles. Investigators examined the complete genetic profiles of more than 22,000 people of European descent with coronary heart disease or a heart attack history and 60,000 healthy people -- making this study close to 10 times bigger than the next largest whole-genome study to date. Combining data from multiple studies is critical to finding gene risk variants, as the genetic architecture of heart diseases is very complex.

"The signals from these gene regions are all rather subtle, making large-scale collaborations a prerequisite for any meaningful progress," Assimes said in a statement. Researchers showed that of the total of 23 variants now known, seven are linked with levels of "bad" or LDL cholesterol and one is linked with hypertension, or high blood pressure -- both known risk factors for heart disease.

But the others have no relation to known cardiovascular risk factors -- a finding the scientists said opened up new opportunities for future research and discovery. "The lack of apparent association with the risk factors we know so well is the source of a lot of excitement concerning these results," said Sekar  of Massachusetts General Hospital in the United States, who worked on the study.

"If these variants do not act through known mechanisms, how do they confer risk for heart disease? It suggests there are new mechanisms we don't yet understand."

Please remember that Heart Disease is one of the biggest killer of Americans. Be very careful with the risk factors.

 

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