HIAM350 DiseasePaper

Submitted By cassiholtgrave
Words: 930
Pages: 4

Heart Disease

Cassi Holtgrave
October 28, 2014

Cardiovascular disease, also known as heart disease, refers to conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack, chest pain, or stroke. Other heart conditions, such as those that affect your heart's muscle, valves or rhythm, also are considered forms of heart disease (Mayo). Heart disease is the number one killer in the United States today. In 2008, over 600,000 Americans died of the disease (Healthline). Although you may think heart disease is a condition that our not so healthy lifestyle has led to, the history of this disease may surprise you. The causes of heart disease, signs, and symptoms are important to recognize because it is very treatable. However, more people than you may think are, and have been, affected by this disease. At the 2009 American Heart Association meeting in Florida, researchers presented study results showing that Egyptian mummies, some 3,500 years old, had evidence of heart disease—specifically atherosclerosis, which narrows the arteries. Pharaoh Merenptah, who died in the year 1203 BC, was plagued by atherosclerosis. Nine of 16 other mummies studied also had evidence of the disease. Researchers theorized that diet could be involved. High-status Egyptians ate a lot of fatty meats from cattle, ducks, and geese, and used a lot of salt for food preservation (Healthline). Before understanding the causes of heart disease you should understand how the heart works. The heart is muscular organ slightly situated to the left that pumps blood. Your heart is divided into right and left sides which help to protect oxygen-rich blood from mixing with oxygen-poor blood. Your heart consists of four valves. These valves keep the blood flowing the right way by opening only one way and only when they need to. The conduction system keeps your heart beating in a coordinated and normal rhythm, which keeps blood circulating (Mayo). As you can see, blood flow to and from the heart is vitally important. Therefore, when the blood vessels become blocked in any way you can see what a serious complication this can be to have reduced blood flow through your arteries to your tissues and organs. The causes of heart disease can really vary depending on the specific type of heart disease you have. Smoking, hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, and family history are all causes of heart disease. Some of these factors can eventually cause inflammation and irritation of the inner lining of the coronary arteries. Over time, cholesterol in the bloodstream can collect in the inflamed areas and begin to form plaque. This plaque can grow and as it does, the diameter of the artery for blood flow narrows. If the artery narrows by 40% to 50%, blood flow is compromised or decreased enough to potentially cause the symptoms of angina which is chest pains (MedicineNet). It is important to understand what signs and symptoms to look for with heart disease because there a couple different kinds each with their own set of symptoms. The cause of these symptoms can often be mistaken for other conditions. Symptoms may be different for men and women. For instance, men are more likely to have chest pain; women are more likely to have symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea and extreme fatigue. General symptoms can include: chest pain (angina), shortness of breath, pain, numbness, weakness or coldness in your legs or arms if the blood vessels in those parts of your body are narrowed, and pain in the neck, jaw, throat, upper abdomen or back (Mayo). There are certain people that may have more of a risk of developing heart disease than others. Age plays a role in the development of this disease. The older you get, the greater risk you are. Men