The heart is arguably the most important organ in the human body. It is the engine that keeps everything else working, and you can’t live without it. Even though women can and do suffer from heart problems, men tend to lead in this area. Why? Well, there are a lot of reasons, and the most common one given is that men lead a more stressful lifestyle.
Men were the traditional breadwinners in the family and until fairly recently, women were not part of the workforce. And when they were in the workforce, they did not have the same stressful occupations that men traditionally worked in. so the combination of the stress required to perform at work, make sure you earned enough money to feed your family, coupled with little or no exercise and a poor diet made (and make) men more susceptible to heart disease.
This article will examine the common causes of heart disease, and the simple steps and lifestyle changes you can do to prevent heart problems. When it comes to the heart, you are never too young to start protecting that organ from disease.
Common Heart Problems
Angina is a disease that happens when plaque builds up on your arterial walls to the point that blood flow is restricted to the heart. Once this happens, your heart becomes starved for oxygen. The symptoms for this condition are a tightening of the chest and pressure, as well as chest, neck and arm pains.
This is a very common occurrence in men, as plaque tends to build up over a lifetime, eventually causing problems when you are older. It is very much related to your diet, and avoiding high fat high cholesterol foods is a very simple way of dramatically reducing your risk.
Rheumatic Heart Disease Or Congenital Heart Disease
Most people who are born with a heart condition are treated as children, but sometimes this is not always the case. People who contract rheumatic fever often enter their adult lives with damaged heart valves, which could go undetected for years or in a worse case scenario, undetected until a problem occurs.
There can also be a problem with the outflow of blood from the heart, due to heart muscle damage from a prior heart attack or narrowing of the arteries due to plaque build up or high blood pressure. The end result is increased stress on the heart, as the body is not getting the blood and oxygen it requires.
If you have a problem relating to heart damage or defect, close monitoring by your physician is a good long-term plan. You can increase your ability to combat future issues by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and a low body weight
The dreaded heart attack can occur for a number of reasons, and you do not have to be old, overweight and a smoker to get one. Young people have them all the time, particularly those who lead stressful lives.
Drugs and alcohol are also bad for the heart, particular newer drugs like crystal meth that dramatically increase heart rate and stress on the heart. Excessive use of stimulant-based drugs has caused heart attacks in teenagers, so don’t think that youth will protect you from a heart attack.
Anything that causes your heart to stop, will cause scarring and damage to the heart muscle – assuming you survive the experience. This means you have to change your lifestyle dramatically from the moment you wake up in the hospital, so preventing it from happening is better than dealing with one after the fact. If you can’t avoid the stress of your life, then do something to combat it.
Exercise is the best way to reduce stress, particularly if you can’t switch careers. Alcohol might make you feel better, but it only covers up the physical anxiety created by the stress and add new stress on your heart.
High Blood Pressure
Although more commonly linked to strokes, high blood pressure is a major factor in heart failure. Since high blood pressure decreases your body’s ability to absorb oxygen from the blood, the heart is required to work harder to compensate for this loss. A harder working heart puts stress on the heart, and can lead to a heart attack.
Lowering your blood pressure is an easy way to dramatically reduce your chance of a stroke and a heart attack, and this can be done through non-medicinal ways: lose weight, reduce alcohol consumption, and avoid foods high in fat and cholesterol. T
here are also a host of drugs on the market that can help, but you are better off preventing the condition from starting, rather than getting to the point where you need medications.
High cholesterol – the kind that is bad for you – is often found in high fat foods. Most commonly found in deep fried foods, cheese, and other foods saturated in fat or trans-fats. If you have a diet high in these types of food, the long-term prognosis is not good. The cholesterol sticks to the walls of the arteries, building up plaque.
This plaque restricts blood flow, and that lead to increased stress and pressure on the heart. It is a very easy situation to address, as it usually builds up in one’s lifetime, due to a poor diet. Children as young as 4 have been found with plaque on their arteries, so some build-up is inevitable in your lifetime, but too much can kill you.
Plants do not contain cholesterol, but foods from animals do. That being said, you do not need to become a vegetarian to avoid cholesterol, but switching to low and non-fat options can have a dramatic effect on lowering your bad cholesterol.
Although the advice being preached in this article may sound repetitive, the fact is that simple adjustments to your diet, exercise and lifestyle can make all the difference in the world. Recent studies have shown that a mere 20 minutes of exercise a day (this includes walking) can reduce your risk of stroke and heart attacks by as much as 12%. Think of it this way – if you had a pill to take that gave you that kind of reduction, you would probably take it. Try and make a few simple changes in your lifestyle now, and you can avoid the emergency room later.