Know your heart disease: angina pectoris and arteriosclerosis

Take good care of your heart. Drink green barley everyday. Photo by Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot @freedigitalphotos[dot]net

Angina pectoris is a chronic condition of chest pain caused by atherosclerosis and coronary artery spasm. Usually an angina pectoris crisis can be caused by intense emotions and by excessive exposure to cold. The most common cause of this disease is the coronary artery disorder. The disease often results from an effort because of sudden onset of chest pain, and bed rest is usually recommended.
The characteristic symptom of angina pectoris is pain or a feeling of constriction in the middle of the chest and below the sternum (that is, flat bone in the middle of the chest). Typically, pain can radiate to the left shoulder, up to the elbow. Pain rarely occurs in right arm. Pain is not very intense but causes a strong sense of constriction and oppression on the center of the chest.
Other symptoms maybe breathlessness, palpitations and sudden dizziness. The pain is quick, and lasts a few minutes. The risk of angina pectoris might result in increased risks for thrombosis. If symptom of chest constriction does not disappear within half an hour, it’s possible that the patient suffers pain with coronary thrombosis, i.e. a serious and fatal disease. The presence of mild chest pain after an effort and its rapid disappearance may be a warning signal for the early diagnosis of heart disease.
Pharmacologic therapy remains the mainstay for treatment of angina pectoris, which should be accompanied by physical exercises and adequate decrease of body weight. The patient needs to lose weight, avoid fatty foods, physical fatigue, intense emotions and cigarettes. These basic rules of conduct should be followed by the administration of some drugs to minimize cardiovascular events and hypercholesterolemia, to avoid atherothrombotic events and angina pectoris attacks.

The control of blood pressure is also important. For the patients who do not respond to medical treatment, and are subject to frequent seizures that lead to heart attacks, urgent coronary bypass operation is required, which reduces the severity of symptoms and allows the patient to lead a normal life. Arteriosclerosis is a disease characterized by thickening and loss of elasticity of the arterial walls, and is caused by deposits of cholesterol and other fats with progressive blockage of lumen with plaques.
This disease develops over many years; it may start from childhood, especially if at this early stage of life children lead a more sedentary lifestyle, with a high-fat diet. Arteriosclerosis usually affects men between 50 and 60 years of age, and becomes, for both men and women, one of the most fatal diseases. Coronary arteriosclerosis is the most common cause of angina pectoris, coronary thrombosis and coronary insufficiency. It is a insidious and asymptomatic decease until very advanced stages. However, a series of cardiac tests can detect coronary disease at earliest stages.
Lack of regular exercise can damage arteries. Daily exercise increases benefits and decreases risks and helps to maintain the circulation of the blood around the heart. Some forms of exercise such as jogging, swimming and cycling are extremely effective in keeping arteries normally flexible. The problem of the sedentary workers is that they get insufficient physical exercise, such that it is often necessary, for example, to climb the stairs instead of taking the elevator and walking instead of driving, because obesity is another risk factor of cardiovascular disease. Both cholesterol and triglycerides become dangerous only when the body becomes unable to dispose of them rapidly, so they settle in the arteries, forming fatty deposits called plaque [=atherosclerosis]. Treatment of cholesterol involves primarily a lipid-poor diet, an active lifestyle, and of course the use of certain drugs.

Other risk factors are high blood pressure and cigarettes. The normal range of blood pressure is 120-80, while hypertension refers to the persistence of 140/90. Blood pressure fluctuates throughout the day, often depending on stressful situations. However, if hypertension persists over a period of time, it can cause serious damage to coronary arteries. Also in this case, many patients need to use medications to keep their blood pressure under control. An essential element in the care of hypertension is the control of body weight. It is also certain that cigarettes tend to narrow the arterial passageway. Usually 10 cigarettes per day double the risk of cardiac damages. Finally, metabolic disorders closely related to the inheritance are other risk factors.

Certainly, diet and appropriate physical exercises under medical supervision can invigorate peripheral circulation around the heart, with significant regression of the disease and degenerative changes in the coronary circulation. As arteriosclerosis is a degenerative disease and arterial lesions may progress over time, a complete recovery is unlikely. However, through proper diet and physical activity, coronary artery disease can regress, allowing the patient to enjoy better quality of life.

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