More so often we are so worried that we could have heart disease, and the eerie feeling that someone we know so closely died out of it. In fact, chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States. They are also leading drivers of the nation’s $3.5 trillion in annual health care costs. Heart disease describes a range of conditions that affect your heart. Diseases under the heart disease umbrella include blood vessel diseases, such as coronary artery disease; heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias); and heart defects you’re born with (congenital heart defects), among others. For purposes of this article, we are going to largely restrict ourselves to cardiovascular disease as an umbrella of many heart-related conditions rather than focusing on one specific condition. We shall in as much try to see what to do to reduce the risk of having a myocardial infarction and what to do in case of a heart attack. A heart attack is the death of a segment of heart muscle caused by a loss of blood supply. The blood is usually cut off when an artery supplying the heart muscle is blocked by a blood clot. If some of the heart muscle dies, a person experiences chest pain and electrical instability of the heart muscle tissue.

Coronary artery disease is the most common type of heart disease in the US. Coronary arteries supply blood to the heart muscle and coronary artery disease occurs when there is a buildup of cholesterol plaque inside the artery walls. Over time, this buildup of plaque may partially block the artery and decrease blood flow through it. A heart attack occurs when a plaque ruptures and forms a clot in the artery causing a complete blockage. That part of the heart muscle that is denied blood supply starts to die.

So what causes coronary artery disease?

Coronary artery disease is the narrowing or blockage of the coronary arteries, usually caused by atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis (sometimes called “hardening” or “clogging” of the arteries) is the buildup of cholesterol and fatty deposits (called plaques) on the inner walls of the arteries.

Symptoms of coronary artery disease that you should always look out for

  • Pain or discomfort in other areas of the upper body including the arms, left shoulder, back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath (dyspnea).
  • Sweating or “cold sweat”
  • Fullness, indigestion, or a choking feeling ( this may feel like “heartburn”)
  • Nausea or vomiting.

Can coronary heart disease be avoided?

Surprisingly the answer to this question is yes. What most people do not know is that most of the conditions we find ourselves struggling with can be avoided, including coronary heart disease. This is because the things that predispose us are largely our own doing. Imagine by simply doing the following things, you can reduce your risk of getting Coronary Artery Disease.

  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet-When there is too much cholesterol in your blood, it builds up in the walls of your arteries, causing a process called atherosclerosis, a form of heart disease. The arteries become narrowed and blood flow to the heart muscle is slowed down or blocked. Avoid foods that have high unsaturated fats such as fatty cuts of meat, full fat dairy products such as milk, cream, cheese and yoghurt, deep fried fast foods, processed foods such as biscuits and pastries, takeaway foods such as hamburgers and pizza, coconut oil and butter.

  • Be more physically active-Physical activity allows better blood flow in the small blood vessels around your heart. Exercise also increases your levels of HDL cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol that lowers heart disease risk by flushing the artery-clogging LDL or “bad” cholesterol out of your system.
  • Keep to a healthy weight. – Obesity is a risk factor for coronary artery disease (CAD), which results from cholesterol plaque buildup in the arteries of the heart. Secondly, obesity is linked to sleep apnea, which causes lung problems as well as high blood pressure, both of which can eventually lead to heart failure.

  • Give up smoking-Smoking is a major risk factor for coronary heart disease. Both nicotine and carbon monoxide (from the smoke) put a strain on the heart by making it work faster. … Other chemicals in cigarette smoke can damage the lining of your coronary arteries, leading to furring of the arteries.

  • Reduce your alcohol consumption. – I know some people think that wine or alcohol is sometimes good for heart disease patients. What I would like to say is that the disadvantages outweigh the benefits, and we often find ourselves drinking too much than we are supposed to. In fact, drinking more than three servings of alcohol per day leads to a level of toxic substances in the blood that directly increases the risk of heart attack. Alcohol abuse increases the lipids in the blood, which is a type of fat that can harden arteries, increasing cholesterol and arterial plaque.

  • Keep your blood pressure under control-People with high blood pressure are more likely to develop coronary artery disease, because high blood pressure puts added force against the artery walls. Over time, this extra pressure can damage the arteries, making them more vulnerable to the narrowing and plaque buildup associated with atherosclerosis.

Heart attack first aid that can save your life

If you think someone is having a heart attack: Have the person sit down, rest, and try to keep calm. Loosen any tight clothing. Ask if the person takes any chest pain medicine, such as nitroglycerin, for a known heart condition, and help them take it. If the person stops breathing, you or someone else who’s qualified should perform CPR right away. 

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is an emergency procedure that combines chest compressions often with artificial ventilation in an effort to manually preserve intact brain function until further measures are taken to restore spontaneous blood circulation and breathing in a person who is in cardiac arrest.

Is coronary heart disease curable?

Most forms of heart disease are very treatable today. There is some evidence that normalizing high blood pressure and lowering cholesterol to very low levels will partially reverse plaques in the coronary arteries. They won’t go away completely, but they shrink enough to make a difference. So it is all up to us to change our lifestyle and feeding habits. If you are in COVID-19 isolation, you may be tempted to eat more fatty foods or try out on that pizza you haven’t had for a long time and trying out injurious recipes with high cholesterol. I advise you not to, because if you form a habit, as is drinking starts with a single sip, you could be predisposing yourself to a lifelong heart disease. Please, you know what to do and what not to do. Be good, and stay safe. In case you have a heart disease, always get in touch with your doctor and do not forget to take your medicine as advised.

As always, stay well and healthy.