Cardiovascular Diseases

One of the most common afflictions in the modern society is heart disease. More than half of all deaths recorded in the world each year are the result of heart diseases. The heart is the strongest muscle in the body. Yet, like any piece of complicated machinery, it can wear out or break down.

Heart disease can appear in a variety of forms. Some can be treated successfully, other heart ailments are fatal.

One condition which can be treated by changing the environment is atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries. With this disease, the inner walls of the arteries are gradually thickened by layers of fatty material, narrowing the channel for the passage of blood. Blood clots may form and block the circulation entirely. One way to decrease the likelihood of this condition is by reducing the cholesterol content of the diet, emphasizing vegetable oils, avoiding smoking and increasing exercise.

A patient who suffers from a heart attack has what doctors call a coronary thrombosis leading to myocardial infarction or cardiac arrest. One or more of the arteries supplying the heart muscle with blood become narrowed by a blood clot. Symptoms include pain in the chest, shortness of breath, and nausea.

Angina pectoris refers to chest pains caused when the heart muscle does not get enough oxygen. An attack is usually caused by overexertion and can be relieved by rest and nitroglycerin tablets.

A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is reduced or completely cut off by a blood clot or a hemorrhage. Partial or complete paralysis may result.

Primary hypertension may be present for years without any symptoms or signs. In time the patient may become irritable, easily fatigued, with some detectable impairment of memory or an increase in the frequency of headaches. The patient may also complain of high blood pressure, insomnia, weakness, palpitations. In the later stages, hemorrhages, acute recurrent attacks of severe headaches, nausea and vomiting may occur.

Some patients with chronic heart conditions who do not respond to drugs can now be helped with open-heart surgery. The valves, arteries and other parts of the heart mechanism can be repaired or replaced. A pacemaker can be inserted to regulate the heart's beat artificially. Heart transplants have also been tried experimentally, with some success.

l. One major form of cardiovascular disease is.... It is a medical term for clotted arteries. Over a period of time, an artery may be narrowed because of a buildup of fatty deposits called plaque. Plaque causes the once-smooth lining of an artery to become thick and rough. The opening to the artery narrows and its elasticity is reduced. The artery cannot expand and contract as it should. As a result, blood flow is affected. The heart must pump harder to force blood through the artery. Thus, blood pressure is increased. If too much plaque builds up in a blood vessel, it forms a thrombus, or a clot, that shuts off the flow of blood.

2. It is a chronic high blood pressure. It affects more than one in five adults in the world. What is most alarming about it is that over 25 percent of its victims are unaware of their problem. They do not know they need treatment that would relieve the condition.

It creates several conditions that can severely damage the cardiovascular system. It can cause the heart to work harder to pump blood, thus weakening it. It can cause a speedier buildup of plaque on the walls of arteries. This increases the chances of clot formation. It may cause pressure severe enough to burst an artery wall. In many cases, the causes of this disease are not known.

3. This disease, especially when due to thrombosis, is sometimes preceded by a history of angina pectoris or primary hypertension. Many patients, however, have had no previous cardiovascular complaints. It is sometimes completely or relatively asymptomatic.

The most characteristic complaint is severe substernal oppression, often described as squeezing, pressing or constricting. Dyspnea is a common accompaniment; the patient complains that the crushing pressure on his chest prevents him from breathing properly. Nausea, vomiting, hiccups and abdominal distension sometimes occur. Extreme weakness and fear of impending death are occasionally present. The blood pressure usually falls within a few hours after onset of the attack.



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