for Nutritional Healing by Phyllis A. Balch, CNC and James F. Balch,
Cardiovascular disease is a general term encompassing heart attack, stroke, and other disorders of the heart and blood vessel system. Cardiovascular disease is the leading health problem in the Western world. It is the number one cause of death in the United States, claiming more than 1 million lives annually. An estimated 50 million Americans have heart and blood vessel disease, although many do not know it because they have no symptoms. Traditionally thought of a disease primarily affecting men, cardiovascular disease is also and increasingly a problem for women. It is responsible for the deaths of 250,000 women a year in the United States. In fact, more women die from heart disease than from breast cancer and uterine cancer combined. African-American woman are at greater risk than women of other ethnic backgrounds. There are many types of cardiovascular disease, including angina, heart attack, hypertension, heart failure, arrhythmias, and valvular disease.
The arteries that supply blood to the heart are called the coronary arteries. If the heart's blood vessels narrow, the amount of blood they supply to the heart may be insufficient to provide the oxygen the heart needs. This oxygen deprivation is what causes a type of chest pain known as angina pectoris. Angina is characterized by a heavy, tight pain in the chest area, usually after some type of exertion. The pain usually recedes with rest.
If the coronary arteries that carry oxygen and nutrients to the heart muscle become obstructed, the flow of blood is cut off completely, and a heart attack, or myocardial infarction, can occur, resulting in damage to the heart muscle. Arteriosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, and the presence of a thrombus, or clot, in a blood vessel are the most common causes of obstruction. Arteriosclerosis is responsible for most of the deaths resulting from heart attacks. Spasms of the coronary arteries can also result in a heart attack. A heart attack may feel as if someone is applying intense pressure to the chest. This pain may last for several minutes, often extending to the shoulder, arm, neck, or jaw. Other signs of heart attack include sweating, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, dizziness, fainting, feelings of anxiety, difficulty swallowing, sudden ringing in the ears, and loss of speech. The amount and type of chest pain vary from one person to another. Some people have intense pain, while others feel only mild discomfort. Many mistake the signs of a heart attack for indigestion. Some have no symptoms at all, a situation referred to as a "silent" heart attack.
Unfortunately, despite remarkable new technology for both diagnosis and treatment of heart conditions, the first sign of cardiovascular disease may be a life-threatening calamity. Disorders of the cardiovascular system are often far advanced before they become symptomatic. An estimated 25 percent of people who have heart attacks have no previous symptoms of heart trouble.
The good news is that cardiovascular disease is not an inevitable result of aging, and there are many preventive measures you can take. Controllable factors that can contribute to heart disease include smoking, high blood pressure, cholesterol problems, stress, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, and diabetes. You can alter your lifestyle to keep your heart healthy.
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This information is educational in context and is not to be used to diagnose, treat or cure any disease. Please consult your licensed health care practitioner before using this or any medical information.