Causes of Cardiovascular Disease

Every day more and more people are suffering from heart problems? Can this be avoided? Read on to learn about the causes of cardiovascular diseases.
| Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Cardiovascular disease is perhaps the biggest killer of present times. Cardiovascular diseases include angina pectoris, heart attacks, strokes, arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis. Causes of cardiovascular diseases are often inter-related and so it is difficult to determine the exact cause. However there are some risk factors associated with cardiovascular diseases and these include:

  • Atherosclerosis: The beginning for cardiovascular diseases occurs with plaque building up within the arteries. This happens when over a period of time fat starts accumulating on the inner walls of arteries. This occurs particularly in places where the arteries branch. As time passes, the fat deposits or streaks as they are called become larger and they harden into plaque. The problem that this plaque causes is that it results in the development of blood clots and also aneurysms. These clots are the cause for major problems like heart attacks, strokes and even thrombosis. Aneurysm is when a blood vessel becomes weak and balloons out and with time this can burst to result in bleeding in massive proportions and it leads to eventual death. Clots sometime grow to the extent of blocking a blood vessel.
  • Age: As we grow older the risk factors associated with developing these clots and other problems related to the heart go on increasing. Statistics indicate that around four in five individuals that are over the age of 65 die of heart attacks. As women age the incidence of them having heart attacks is more than that of men.   
  • Gender: Gender also has an important role to play in determining the possibility of heart attacks. Men irrespective of their age are more likely to experience cardiovascular diseases than women. Genes also play a role in determining the probability of individual developing cardiovascular diseases. Offsprings of individuals having some form of cardiovascular disease are more likely to develop the same.
  • Alcohol: Those who drink heavily are more likely to die following heart problems than those who do not drink.
  • Smoking: Individuals who are addicted to smoking are twice as likely to have a heart attack as compared to non smokers. Smokers are also at a greater risk of cardiac death as compared to those who do not smoke.
  • High cholesterol level: LDL cholesterol is the harmful cholesterol and increase in its level increases the possibility of an individual suffering from cardiovascular disease.
  • High blood pressure: High blood pressure is responsible for increasing the workload of the heart and can also cause a great amount of damage to the arteries, further leading to atherosclerosis. This happens because blood pressure causes extensive scarring to the arterial walls. This damage lays the foundation for build up of plaque and because of that the arterial walls become narrow and lose their flexibility. As cholesterol levels increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases also increase. In combination with other risks such as heredity factors, bad diet choices and age, the possibility of cardiovascular disease increases manifold.
  • Amino acid: A major risk to developing cardiovascular disease has been attributed to homocysteine. This plays a role similar to cholesterol and therefore contributes to the building up of plaque and can result in heart diseases.
  • Obesity: People who are overweight have greater possibility of developing heart diseases and also a stroke. This can happen even if other risk factors are absent. This is because excessive weight results in cholesterol imbalances and also blood pressure problems. Excessive weight can also cause diabetes. When a person is overweight and also has diabetes or smokes then the chances of heart attack or a stroke are very high.
  • Stress: There is a definite link between development of coronary heart problems and stress and this link has been proved time and again in many research studies. This happens because stress results in certain chemicals being released and these chemicals cause the heart rate to increase and thereby blood pressure also increases.
  • Menopause: For women the onset of menopause increases the possibility of cardiovascular diseases. This is because estrogen is something that protects women against heart diseases. Women who smoke, have high blood pressure and who use birth control pills face a certain amount of risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.

Consistent and moderate exercise, healthy food choices and a stress free outlook towards life can increase your chances of enjoying a healthy and long life.

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