Heart diseases afflict an unusually high percentage of the India population. Quite a few studies have pointed out that Indians are susceptible to coronary ailments at a much younger age, nearly a decade younger, than their western counterparts.
Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary artery disease, a type of coronary ailment, is especially rampant in the country. The onset of coronary artery disease is marked by a build-up of plaque or cholesterol in the coronary arteries. These arteries form a part of the heart’s own vascular system; they are the primary conduits for supplying the heart muscles with oxygen and nutrition, both of which are crucial to keep the muscles working at their optimum.
The build-up of plaque in coronary arteries leads to their narrowing down. In other words, the cross-sectional area, of the arteries, available for regular blood flow gets reduced.
How You Get Affected
The narrowing of arteries may not produce any noticeable deterioration at normal levels of physical activity, the problem becomes more than apparent when you engage in moderate to high-stress activities such as exercising or running.
The body starts to demand more oxygen which in turn requires an increase in the normal blood flow. But, the partially obstructed arteries fail to accommodate the required increase in flow. In medical parlance, this condition is defined as Ischemia.
A very typical symptom of Ischemia is a sharp pain in the chest called Angina. In certain situations, the plaque stuck to the arteries’ inner walls breaks down into smaller grains that completely occlude the arterial pathway; consequently, a heart attack occurs.
Risk Factors For Blockage of Arteries
The build-up of plaque in the arteries owes itself to multiple causes. The following are some risk factors that can, if addressed or treated in advance, reduce the probability of arterial blockage.
- Diabetes – Diabetes, as a medical condition, results from an upset in the glucose metabolism process. It can be a major contributing factor to the development of arterial blockages.
- Hypertension – One of Hypertension’s typical symptoms, increased blood pressure, can make almost every organ in the body vulnerable to diseases including coronary artery disease.
- High Cholesterol – High levels of cholesterol in your blood can directly precipitate plaque build-up in the arteries. It is very important to get high cholesterol levels treated medically to avoid heart diseases.
- Smoking – Smoking, as a habit, is the most important avoidable risk factor vis-a-vis cardiac diseases. Avoiding or quitting smoking completely will not only reduce vulnerability to cardiac diseases but will also bolster your overall health.
- Family History – People with parents or first-degree relatives who have had a heart disease before their 50th birthday are at an increased risk of developing coronary complications. Family history is not under anybody’s control but advance knowledge of it can help one take pre-emptive steps to avoid heart diseases.
- Detrimental Lifestyles – This phrase encompasses a vast range of choices that we make in our daily lives that deteriorate, on a gradual basis, our overall health. It includes lack of physical activity or exercise and persistently poor diets.
Besides these risk factors, there are certain other non-traditional or indirect factors which may increase the risk of onset of heart diseases.
- Stress – Stress is quite a broad term; it may result due to a wide range of causes from high-pressure work environments to strained relationships or bereavement due to loss. High-stress levels induce higher amounts of epinephrine and cortisol in the body which in turn cause narrowing of the arteries. This assists plaque build-up in the constricted arteries.
- Environmental Pollution – There have been reports that have found a correlation between air pollution levels and plaque build-up in arteries. Exposure to fine particulate matter, on a regular basis, may damage blood vessels and hasten the onset of cardiac complications.
Awareness Leads To a Healthy Life
Strictly speaking, it is impossible to predict accurately the occurrence of coronary artery disease, or any other cardiac ailment, in any individual. But, awareness of the risk factors, with required precautions, can significantly reduce the probability of heart diseases and help one lead a healthy and happy life.
Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information.