What Is The Definition of Heart Disease
What Is The Definition of Heart Disease
May 26, 2009
This lesson discusses the definition of heart disease, facts, risk factors, and symptoms.
Category: Disease & Illness
Classroom: Women Heart Disease - Causes, Symptoms & Diet

What Is The Definition of Heart Disease?

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US. It is characterized by the narrowing of the coronary arteries, the arteries that supply the heart with blood. Narrowing of these arteries leads to blockage and even total occlusion, preventing blood, oxygen, and nutrients from getting to the heart and other areas of the body. Without blood, the heart tissue begins to die causing a heart attack. Many factors can be attributed to heart disease, one of them being lifestyle. Making lifestyle changes can greatly reduce the risks for heart disease, even if you are predisposed to it. Lets discuss some facts about heart disease, it's risk factors, and symptoms.

Heart Disease

The Facts -

In the US, heart disease kills more women than men. Women account for 60% of the total heart attack deaths due to heart disease. Women often ignore the early warning signs of heart attack because they don't know what these signs are and blame the discomfort on something else.

Risk Factors

The risk factors for heart disease include, age, family history, race, smoking, high blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and diabetes. A woman's risk factors for heart disease increase with age. Black people have a higher risk for heart disease than whites, and black women have a higher incidence of heart disease than white women. Over all, women are at greater risk than men for heart disease.

High Blood Pressure: Blood pressure is determined by the force of the heart moving blood throughout the body. The harder the heart has to pump, the higher the blood pressure. High blood pressure damages the major organs of the body such as the kidneys, heart, and lungs, leading to failure of these organs. It can enlarge the heart (Cardiomyopathy) by increasing the heart's size, thereby decreasing it's functionability. If the heart can not pump effectively, fluid begins to back up into the lungs causing congestive heart failure (CHF). High blood pressure, also known as Hypertension (HTN) is called the silent killer because it has no symptoms. People can have high blood pressure for years and not know it.

Diabetes: is a life-long (chronic) disease that occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough of the hormone insulin to properly control blood sugar levels. Insulin is responsible for allowing glucose to enter the cells. Complications of diabetes include vascular disease, blocked arteries (heart disease), and heart attacks.

Family History: If you have close blood reletives such as a parent, grandparents, aunt and uncles, or siblings who have heart disease, your risks for heart disease are increased. Lifestyle changes can reduce these risks by stopping smoking, maintaining weight, proper exercise, and eating a heart healthy diet.

Age: With women, as their age increases so do their risks for heart disease. This can be attributed to menopause and other hormonal changes.

Cholesterol Levels: Cholesterol is a soft, waxy substance found in all parts of the body, and is manufactured in the liver. You have a greater risk of developing heart disease or atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) as your level of blood cholesterol increases. Maintaining proper blood cholesterol levels can reduce your risk of heart attack due to heart disease.

Race: Blacks are more susceptible to heart disease than whites.

Gender: Women die more often from heart disease than men do.

Symptoms Of Heart Disease

  • Chest or arm pain or discomfort

  • Shortness of breath

  • Dizziness or nausea

  • Abnormal heartbeat

  • Fatigue or unnatural tiredness

Symptoms of heart disease can vary from person to person and differ from man to woman. Watch for symptoms of a heart attack, which include:

  • Pain or discomfort in the center of the chest

  • Pain in the arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach

  • Shortness of breath

  • Breaking out in a cold sweat

  • Nausea

  • Feeling faint or woozy

Symptoms for women are normally less specific, and include fatigue, trouble sleeping, feelings of anxiety, problems breathing and indigestion. Any symptom of heart disease is a reason to call your doctor. Don’t put it off if you suspect you’re having a heart attack. If you’re having a heart attack, chew one aspirin and call 911. Do not attempt to move or drive yourself to the hospital.

By Barb Hicks RN/LMT

The One-Minute Cure: The Secret to Healing Virtually All Diseases


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The One-Minute Cure: The Secret to Healing Virtually All Diseases