THE INTERACTIVE HEART
Your heart will beat every second of your life. About the size of a fist, the heart muscle continually circulates blood throughout your body. An average person's heart will beat over 2.5 billion times in a lifetime. But what actually goes on inside the heart?
Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the number one killer in the United States, causing over 500,000 deaths per year. Coronary artery disease results when fatty deposits called plaque build up in arteries in the heart, causing them to narrow and harden. If the arteries become blocked, the heart receives less oxygen and can become damaged.
In most people, CAD begins in young adulthood and gradually develops throughout life. While some risk factors for CAD cannot be controlled, there are many important lifestyle choices that may lower your risk for the disease.
Controllable Risk Factors
Smoking In addition to causing damage to the lungs, the nicotine in cigarettes causes blood vessels to narrow. This makes blood pressure rise and the heart beat faster. Also, the carbon monoxide in cigarettes reduces the blood's ability to carry oxygen. For more information on the effects of smoking, check out the American Lung Association website.
High Blood Pressure - High blood pressure makes the heart work even harder because of the extra strain it places on the arterial walls. Though this condition can't be cured, medication and lifestyle changes can lower blood pressure.
High Blood Cholesterol - A diet high in cholesterol and fat can lead to fatty deposits on the arterial walls. To control your blood cholesterol, eat more fish and poultry and less red meat. Choose low-fat dairy products, and try not to eat more than two eggs per week.
Sedentary Lifestyle and Obesity - The heart, like any other muscle, needs regular exercise. Examples of exercises you can do to condition and strengthen the heart include walking, swimming and bicycling. Extra weight forces the heart to work harder in order to supply blood to the body, and it increases the risk of diabetes and high blood pressure. To control your weight, eat nutritious, well-balanced meals and exercise regularly.
Uncontrollable Risk Factors
AgeMen over the age of 45 and women over the age of 55 are at greater risk for coronary artery disease. You can control some of the effects of aging by eating well, exercising and getting regular checkups.
Family History - If either of your parents or any of your grandparents had heart disease, there is a greater chance that you will also develop it. Avoid copying any bad family habits like smoking, poor diet and lack of exercise.
Sex - Men are at a higher risk of having coronary artery disease (CAD) than women. On average, men develop the disease about 10 years earlier than women.
Depending on the extent of the patient's coronary artery disease, different approaches may be used to treat the condition.
Lifestyle Change and Medication
If there is only a small amount of plaque buildup (less than 70 percent) in a patient's arteries, the cardiologist may recommend that the patient exercise three times a week, quit smoking and eat less fatty food. Medications may also be prescribed to open blood vessels, lower the heart rate and blood pressure, decrease blood cholesterol, dissolve clots and prevent clots from forming.
Angioplasty and Stent
A thin, flexible tube called a catheter is inserted into the narrowed artery. A tiny balloon at the tip of the catheter is inflated, mashing the blockage against the vessel wall. A stent, a wire-mesh tube, is then inserted. The stent remains in the artery permanently and acts like a scaffold, preventing further closing or narrowing of the artery.
Bypass surgery creates a detour to re-route blood around the blockage using blood vessels from another part of the body. The procedure is usually recommended when the vessel is almost completely blocked or if the blockage is too large or can't be reached with the catheter.
Thank you to "Live...from the Heart - Museum of Science and Industry." 2011. 10 Dec. 2013 <http://www.msichicago.org/education/live-from-the-heart/> for the above information and for the free PDF files for teacher lesson plans they provide on their site.
WITHOUT MONITORING YOUR HEART IT'S IMPOSSIBLE TO KNOW WHAT TYPE OF SHAPE YOU ARE IN!