The Heart Disease Tragedy
We hear a lot about heart disease and other problems of the cardiovascular system. It has been a problem that has been faced by scientists and health professionals over many decades. We can be forgiven for thinking that with all the attention it has received and all the money that has been spent in trying to find treatments and cures that the problem would have been solved and that the number of people who are dying from cardiovascular system problems would have decreased. This does not appear to be the case. I find the following information alarming.
Piscatella and Franklin (2003) estimate that cardiovascular disease afflicts 100 million Americans (about half the population). One person, in the United States, dies from cardiovascular disease every 34 seconds. This means that by 7 am on any day of the week, 741 have already died of cardiovascular disease, by noon the figure has risen to 1,271 and by the time the day has ended 2,488 have died. Let’s put this another way. The American odds of contracting AIDS is 1 in 1,000,000. The chance of being murdered is 1 in 10,000. However, the risk of dying for cardiovascular disease is 1 in 2.
It has often been thought that this is a man’s problem. However, there are almost as many women with heart problems as men and it is the leading cause of death among American women. Over 250,000 women die of heart disease each year – which is more than the next 14 causes of death added together. More women than men die of heart disease each year. Twice as many women die each year from cardiovascular disease than from all forms of cancer combined.
Answers to questions about heart disease
What is a heart attack?
A heart attack – also called a myocardial infarction (MI) or coronary occlusion (coronary) occurs when blood flow to a part of the heart muscle is blocked. It is caused by a blockage of the coronary artery, or more commonly one of its sub-branches. This usually results from the movement of unstable plaque on the artery wall, a blood clot or a spasm that seals off the artery. The section of the heart muscle that is without blood supply eventually dies and this produces permanent damage to the heart muscle tissue, which comprises the bulk of the organ.
What does a heart attack feel like?
The most common symptom is pain or pressure or a sense of fullness in the chest that lasts for two or more minutes. Men sometimes say that it feels like having a vice squeezing their chest or an elephant sitting on their chest. Women typically experience a milder pain. The pain or sensation may (or it might not) also be in the shoulders, neck, jaw, back, arms or abdomen. Men tend to have sharper pain than women and also often in their arms and shoulders. Dizziness, sweating, nausea and shortness of breath may also occur.
If you have ever run very hard without proper training you will have felt the pain in your muscles caused by lack of oxygen during the time you forced them to work. Well, your heart muscle always has to work for you to live, so when part of it is suddenly deprived of oxygen the pain can be extreme, resulting in loss of consciousness.
When are heart attacks most likely to occur?
Men may first get the signs of heart disease between the ages of 35 and 40 years. The condition doesn’t usually affect women until between the ages of 45 and 64 years.
There are differences in the time of day and the time of the week when heart attacks are most likely to occur. Between 6 am and 12 mid day are the riskiest time of the day – possibly because of the increases in hormone levels and blood pressure and artery stiffness in the morning. More heart attacks happen on Mondays than any other day of the week – sometimes called “Blue Monday”. It is thought that the stress of the work environment – especially after a period of relaxation may be the cause.
What is angina?
There are often no warning symptoms in the early stages of heart disease. However, as the arteries that feed blood and oxygen to the heart muscle (the coronary arteries) become gradually narrowed many people experience angina or angina pectoris – “chest pain”. The heart muscle itself is receiving insufficient oxygen for its current level of workload, just like the untrained runner’s legs mentioned above.
Angina is a sharp, sudden pain – a feeling of tightness, heaviness, squeezing, numbness, burning or pressure. It may move into the arms (often the left arm), neck, jaw, back and shoulder.
Angina is a symptom, not a disease. It is progressive – the pain can becomes more frequent, more intense of both.
Not all angina is the same.
Some occurs during or soon after physical exertion, eating a heavy meal, going into the cold or heat, or as a reaction to emotional stress. Sufferers are usually forced to stop what they are doing (thereby reducing the workload on the heat so that it will have enough oxygen).
Another form of angina produces pain at less predictable times – even when you are sleeping. This form is often a symptom of an impending heart attack.
Angina is a indicator of coronary artery blockage – it affects over 5 million Americans.
What is a cardiac arrest?
A cardiac arrest is where the heart ceases to function – its normal process of pumping blood throughout the body stops. This is an emergency situation as the body, and in particular the brain, needs oxygen supplied via the blood flow. Without this oxygen death occurs rapidly. Most cases of cardiac arrest are related to the heart’s electrical conduction system that isn’t working properly and the heart beats irregularly, such as in ventricular fibrillation where the heart beat is chaotic and ineffective. Sometimes a heart attack can lead to these heart beat problems.
There are ways to deal with and overcome heart disease.
All of the information provided above presents a very gloomy picture. However, you and your family do not need to be a part of this heart disease tragedy. Any changes that your body makes in one direction (for example, towards cardiovascular disease) it can make in the opposite direction (for example, towards a healthy cardiovascular system). You will need to take action to make it happen. Some of the actions you need to take include:
quit smoking, if you are a smoker then the Growerz.com quit smoking program will help you.
balance your diet,
make exercise a health habit, and
manage your stress levels.
As well as these you need to cleanse your body of toxins – this includes the toxins that have built up in your arteries as well as the rest of your internal tissues. These actions (how to take them, things you need to consider and more) will be included in future articles on heart disease.
Part of the tragedy of heart disease is that, as devastating as the disease may be, it is avoidable and treatable. Far too many people are drawn into the myths promoted by western medicine that suggest little can be done to effectively deal with the disease. Your typical doctor has accepted the verdict that suits the pharmaceutical industry and treats you entirely within their “market”. They have largely lost the knowledge and skills to deal with heart disease any other way and now simply perform tests, prescribe side-effect laden drugs and expect you to die soon enough, after they have separated you from a good deal of money. Their approach is massively expensive (consider the tests, drugs, special paramedics, coronary care units and lost work productivity, not to mention the human suffering), quite clearly does not work (just look at the statistics) and simply cannot be relied upon.
We are told repeatedly about the risks that we encounter with our modern lifestyles and how they can, if not controlled, lead to heart disease.
The most common cause of heart disease is high blood pressure or hypertension. If your blood pressure is not checked on a regular basis you are playing a dangerous game and the result could be major heart problems or a stroke, apart from many more related illnesses.
A recent survey carried out in the United Kingdom produced some alarming statistics.
Britain has the highest rate of heart disease related deaths in the world. One adult dies from heart disease every three minutes.
Strokes are the country’s third biggest killer claiming 70,000 live a year.
The tragedy is that a high percentage of these deaths could have been easily avoided by visiting the doctor and responding to the advice given.
Common sense must prevail as before you enter your doctor’s surgery, more often than not, you know what your doctor is going to say: lose weight, give up smoking and change your diet.
It’s funny but most smokers whom you speak to about their habit and the damage it is causing have had a relative or known of someone who lived until they were 96+ and smoked 60 cigarettes a day. This relative also consumed 10 pints of beer every day since the age of 14.
This is not the answer. You must respect yourself and your body. You only have one shot at life and it is too precious to abuse.
If you do not respect yourself how can you expect to gain the respect of others?
Could you imagine the effect your premature death would have on your family, your children being without a parent?
As a matter of urgency you must visit your doctor, listen and respond to the advice given to prevent any heart disease.
Stress- we’re all aware of the feeling- overburdened, overwhelmed, and at times ready to pull our hair out. Yet, can it really be damaging physically? Can it lead to heart trouble?
A recent heart patient illustrates this question. John, a middle-aged man with a ruddy complexion and large eyes, had been admitted to the hospital on my cardiology practice because of terrible pains that gripped his chest. The pain was in fact a heart attack, quite a large one.
Oddly, he possessed no real risk factors for heart disease. He didn’t smoke, have high blood pressure, or admit to a family history of heart disease. Even his cholesterol was normal.
After taking a detailed history, the only thing I could come up with as a cause of his heart attack was stress. His dog, the only real thing in life he cherished, had recently died. He wasn’t married, and didn’t have children. Even his parents were gone. His pet golden retriever had recently been hit by a car.
His grief following the loss was so encompassing, so burdensome that it had created an anvil like weight across his chest. When the pain became unbearable he’d scurried to the Emergency Department.
Is it possible that stress alone- in this case overwhelming grief, can cause actual heart disease?
All of us are familiar with the stress of modern day living. With both adults frequently working, the typical American family must juggle shopping, work, kid’s activities, and a host of other essential tasks. It isn’t unusual to rise early, perform under pressure for long hours at work and then come home to face even more duties.
The constant and seemingly endless hectic pace can numb the body and the mind.
Such stress is all too familiar, but can it actually lead to illness? Can it truly be bad for your heart?
A publication in the British Medical Journal has given undeniable proof that stress is indeed harmful to our heart health. They followed hundreds of research participants for up to seven years and found that people who had subjective feelings of being “over burdened” at work, or performed repetitive activities with no chance for advancement- these people developed nearly three times the heart disease as people who didn’t have this type of stress.
They also found that the chances of suffering a life ending heart attack were also 2-3 times higher.
So what can we do about the feeling of being, “overwhelmed,” or “not being able to take it any more?” Is there hope for hearts that are crying?
The answer is “Yes.” You don’t have to become a medical statistic and suffer a heart attack because of stress.
The first step for avoiding this tragedy is to acknowledge your troublesome feelings. Recognize that you are exhausted or have difficulty.
Next, seek help. One of the reasons I’ve created this web site is to provide a resource for who people with psychological and emotional difficulties.
My Audio CD program: “How to Heal Your Broken Heart- Your 3 Step Method for Finding Greater Love” is a good starting place to get you feeling better. My book, “How to Heal Your Broken Heart- A Cardiologist’s Secrets for Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual Health” offers a practical technique for reducing stress and healing your heart.
Yet many other methods for overcoming stress exist. Yoga, meditation, or counseling can be effective. Hey, just a massage can be a great way to being breaking the cycle of emotional overwhelm.
Heart Disease is a hot health topic today. With all of the information about heart disease on both TV and the Internet, do
you really know which information is advice that you can trust on heart disease? How about information that is not accurate
on heart disease?
There are many different kinds of “heart disease” and we will briefly touch on those in this article, as well.
Are you ready to learn more about what heart disease is and the different types of heart disease? Good, then keep reading!
What Is Heart Disease?
What exactly is heart disease? The latest definition of heart disease is any disease that affects how the heart normally
works. Narrowing or hardening of the arteries that lead to the heart is the most common type of cardiac disease, today.
Of course this can encompass quite a few types or variations of heart disease.
Various types of heart disease include:
* Alcoholic cardiomyopathy
* Aortic regurgitation
* Aortic stenosis
* Cardiogenic shock
* Congenital heart disease
* Coronary artery disease (CAD)
* Dilated cardiomyopathy
* Heart attack (myocardial infarction)
* Heart failure
* Heart tumor
* Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
* Idiopathic cardiomyopathy
* Ischemic cardiomyopathy
* Acute mitral regurgitation
* Chronic mitral regurgitation
* Mitral stenosis
* Mitral valve prolapse
* Peripartum cardiomyopathy
* Pulmonary stenosis
* Stable angina
* Unstable angina
* Tricuspid regurgitation
As you can see, there are many categories of what actually constitutes heart disease. Now that we have identified different
types of cardiac disease, let’s explore some of the underlying causes of these diseases.
Causes Of Heart Disease
Just as many different names for cardiac disease can be confusing and complicated, so can the causes of heart disease. And we
will cover the most common causes below.
Briefly, here are some causes:
* Hypertension (“high blood pressure”)
* Heart valves that do not function normally
* Electrical conduction of the heart that causes an abnormal rhythm.
* Heart’s pumping function that is affected by toxins or infections.
* Congenital or “birth defects” of the heart.
How Many People Are Affected By Heart Disease?
According to the National Institute of Health, there are approximately 70.1 million people affected by some type of cardiac
disorder! Heart disease continues to be the number one cause of death in the US.
Among minorities, cardiac disease or heart disease, ranks first as leading cause of death. The rates of deaths declined for
those groups with the exception of one group, American Indian females. The time frame for this study was between 1985 and
Between 1992 and 2002, the percentage of decline of death rates for CHD (Cardiac Heart Diseas) was the highest among white
males and the least decline was in the black female population.
Financial Impact Of Cardiac Heart Disease
Besides the horrific costs of CHD in terms of personal tragedy, society also bears the brunt of the effects of this disease.
According to the study, 2005 costs for CVD(Cardiovascular Disease) were staggering. Overall, costing 393 Billion Dollars!
Costs broke down like this:
- 242 Billion Dollars for direct health care costs.
- 35 Billion Dollars for indirect costs of morbidity.
- 117 Billion Dollars in DIRECT costs of mortality.
As you can see, cardiovascular disease is one that while complicated and intricate in name and causes, is simply devastating
to both the individual and to the society that the affected comes from. It should be taken very seriously and not ignored, so
education and prevention are essential in decreasing the effects of these diseases, commonly know as cardiac disease.