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Heart Disease

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    D E S C R I P T I O N

    Heart disease is another term for coronary artery disease or CAD. The surface of the heart is laced with arteries that carry oxygen to the heart muscle. When these coronary arteries become clogged with fatty deposits (atherosclerosis), the heart cannot get the oxygen and other nutrients it needs. A sudden complete blockage of one of these vessels results in a heart attack.


    R I S K

    The risk factors for heart disease that a person can actually change are smoking, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, lack of exercise, obesity, diabetes and stress. Other factors that are out of a person's control include a family history of heart disease, male gender and increasing age.


    S Y M P T O M S

    Mild and sometimes even severe coronary artery disease may exist without symptoms. Pressure, aching or a burning sensation in the chest, known as angina, is an indication that blood flow through the coronary arteries has diminished. A previous heart attack is also a signal that arteries are blocked. Congestive heart failure, characterized by fatigue, breathing difficulties and fluid retention, is another sign of heart disease.


    T R E A T M E N T

    Depending upon how advanced heart disease is, it can be treated with one or more of the following:

    1. Lifestyle changes to prevent progression of heart disease by eliminating controllable risk factors.

    2. Medications to prevent blood clots, control blood pressure, lower cholesterol and keep blood sugar levels in check.

    3. Surgery to open or replace blocked coronary arteries and restore adequate blood flow to the heart.


    P R E V E N T I O N

    • Eat a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet.
    • Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight.
    • Quit smoking.
    • Maintain good control over diabetes.

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