The heart has long been associated with the very nature of humanity. As long ago as the fourth century BC, Aristotle considered it to be the seat of the soul, the centre of nutrition and the vital source of heat. The very word ‘heart’ is still deeply embedded in our language in phrases such as ‘heart-felt sympathy’, ‘heart-to-heart talk’, or ‘the heart and soul of the party’, no doubt reflecting its central location in the body and its regular beat. It is also associated with many emotional sensations, so heart disorders hit at the very core of a person’s fabric and psyche.
Types of Heart Disease:
– Heart Attack
– High blood pressure
– Ischemic heart disease
– Heart rhythm disorders
– Heart murmurs
– Rheumatic heart disease
– Pulmonary heart disease
Causes of Heart Disease:
For almost forty years, the lipid hypothesis or diet-heart idea has dominated medical thinking about heart disease. In broad outlines, this theory proposes that when we eat foods rich in saturated fat and cholesterol, cholesterol is then deposited in our arteries in the form of plaque or thermos that cause blockages. If the blockages become severe, or if a clot forms that cannot get past the plaque, the heart is starved of blood and a heart attack occurs.
Many distinguished scientists have pointed to serious flaws in this theory, beginning with the fact that heart disease in America has increased during the period when consumption of saturated fat has decreased. “The diet-heart idea,” said the distinguished George Mann, “is the greatest scam in the history of medicine.” And the chorus of dissidents continues to grow, even as this increasingly untenable theory has been applied to the whole population, starting with low-fat diets for growing children and mass medication with cholesterol-lowering drugs for adults.
But if it isn’t cholesterol, what causes heart disease? We don’t know enough to say for sure but we do have many clues; and although these clues present a complicated picture, it is not beyond the abilities of dedicated scientists to unravel them. Nor is the picture so complex that the consumer cannot make reasonable lifestyle adjustments to improve his chances.
Heart disease includes the 13 symptoms listed below:
- Angina – and its symptoms
- Chest discomfort
- Chest pain
- Brief pain episodes- often 2-5 minutes
- Pain worsens on exercise
- Pain relief from rest
- Shortness of breath
Treatments for Heart Disease
There is a wide range of effective drug treatments for people with heart disease. These drugs can help lower blood pressure or cholesterol, prevent or dissolve blood clots, relieve and prevent angina symptoms or improve the strength or rhythm of the heart’s contractions.
Medical procedures to diagnose and treat heart disease include coronary angiography, coronary artery bypass grafts, coronary angioplasty, coronary stinting, heart transplants, operations for congenital defects, surgery for heart valve defects, electrophysiological treatments and implanting of a cardiac defibrillator.
How can I avoid having a heart attack?
Talk to your family doctor about your specific risk factors (see box above) for a heart attack and how to reduce your risk. Your doctor may tell you to do the following:
- Quit smoking. Your doctor can help you. (If you don’t smoke, don’t start!)
- Eat a healthy diet. Cut back on foods high in saturated fat and sodium (salt) to lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Ask your doctor about how to start eating a healthy diet.
- Lose weight if you’re overweight.
- Control your blood pressure if you have hypertension.
Article by Peter Sams.