What is Heart Disease?
Heart disease is a medical condition which refers to diseases of the heart. This may be due to reduced blood flow to the heart as a result of blood clots or thrombosis, and the build-up of fatty deposits inside an artery, leading to the artery hardening and narrowing (atherosclerosis). Cardiovascular disease may be coronary heart disease, stroke, peripheral arterial disease or aortic disease.
Coronary heart disease is a condition that occurs when the heart’s blood supply is blocked or interrupted by a build-up of fatty substances (atheroma) in the coronary arteries. The coronary arteries are the two major blood vessels that supply your heart with blood. When atheroma builds up, it causes restriction in the blood supply to your heart further causing chest pains until the blockage is complete, in which case a heart attack occurs.
Aortic disease is a condition that affects the aorta, the largest blood vessel in the body which carries blood from your heart to the rest of your body. A common disease affecting the aorta is aortic aneurysm, which is where the wall of the aorta becomes weakened and bulges outwards. This further causes chest pain, back pain and abdominal pains.
Rheumatic heart disease is a disease which can cause damage to the areas of the heart such as the heart valves. This illness usually occurs in childhood after a streptococcal infection. This infection may affect the heart and may lead to scarring the valves, weakening the heart muscle, or damaging the sac enclosing the heart. The heart valves do not function normally because of scarring.
Hypertensive heart disease is due to hypertension and its consequences. On the other hand, inflammatory heart disease is caused by inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis), the membrane sac (pericarditis) which surround the heart, the inner lining of the heart (endocarditis) or the myocardium (heart muscle). Inflammation may be caused by known toxic or infectious agents or by an unknown origin.
Angina is chest pain that results from reduced blood supply to the heart (ischemia). This further reduces the amount of blood that reaches the heart that will lead to oxygen deprivation of the heart muscles. The typical pain of angina is in the chest but it can often radiate to the left arm, shoulder or jaw. The pain is related to exertion and is relieved by rest.
Sudden death may occur when there is an abrupt loss of the heart’s ability to pump blood. This may be because of heart attack or serious abnormality of the heart's rhythm.
Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle which may be inherited or due to other causes such as infections or atherosclerosis. Pericardial disease affects the sac that encases the heart is called the pericardium and is brought about by inflammation (pericarditis), fluid accumulation (pericardial effusion) and stiffness (constrictive pericarditis).
Almonds May Prevent Heart Disease
A recent study shows that eating almonds in your diet can reduce the risk of heart disease by keeping blood vessels healthy. This study was made by researchers from the the School of Life and Health Sciences at Aston University in Birmingham, UK. They tested the effects of a short-term almond-enriched diet on healthy young and middle-aged men as well as on a group of young men with cardiovascular risk factors including having high blood pressure or being overweight. The findings showed that those who ate an almond-enriched diet had higher levels of antioxidants (alpha-tocopherol) in their blood stream, improved blood flow and lower blood pressure, potentially reducing their risk of heart disease.
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