Coronary heart disease: Causes, Symptoms, Prevention


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What is Coronary heart disease?

Coronary heart disease (CHD) has become a common disease these days and it affects 1 in every 5 people. It is the most common form of heart disease and it is caused by the narrowing of the coronary heart arteries, where the vessels supply the heart with blood. The vessels become narrowed or closed overtime and the flow of oxygen and nourishment to the heart is partially or completely obstructed or blocked. The body reacts when there is a shortage of oxygen and nourishment which can cause pain (also known as angina pectoris) that radiated across the chest and arm and a heart attack could happen if there is a severe deprivation of oxygen to the heart.

The risk factors for coronary heart disease include age, gender, family history, lifestyle and stress level. For example, people who are older and have a higher level of stress and is usually more prone to getting such disease and fall ill, as well as people with unhealthy lifestyle. For example, having a poor diet can contribute to stress, tiredness and it increases the risk of having health problems like hypertension and obesity. These illnesses will then lead to a more serious disease like the coronary heart disease if it is not taken care of.

The common symptoms of coronary heart disease include rapid heart rate, feeling breathless and having a sharp pain in the chest. For example, when the artery is narrowed or blocked, the heart has to work extra hard to be able to pump the blood the rest of the body, thus resulting in an increase in heart rate and causing one to be short of breath. As for the common causes, it includes smoking, high blood pressure or having an unhealthy lifestyle as all these factors threatens and damages the body.

What is stress?

Stress is the body’s way of responding to any kind of demand or threat. Some of the factors that can contribute to stress could be the pressure that one faces at home or during work, like having financial issues, bad family environment, lack of social support from family and friends and also the major changes in life that they are facing. For example, having to pay off a mountain of bills, having to take responsibility of raising the whole family or a broken family, having a demanding boss that expects perfection and has no tolerance to any mistakes made or having lots of work or project deadline to complete. All these factors could contribute to stress, which hinders and disrupts nearly every system in the body as it can suppress your immune system, upset your digestive and reproductive system, which can lead to serious health problems like depression, anxiety and getting a heart attack or stroke.

The cognitive symptoms of stroke often include memory problems, loss of concentration, constant worrying, having anxious or racing thoughts and seeing only the negative side of things. As for the emotional and physical symptoms, it includes agitation, being moody or easily irritated, chest pains and the increase in heart rate.

Stress itself is a major risk factor for heart disease as it exposes the body to unhealthy and persistently elevated level of stress hormone like adrenaline and cortisol. Studies also show how stress affects the way the blood clots and how it increases the risk of heart attack.

So, how does stress trigger acute coronary events?

When one undergoes high level of stress, it may cause them to smoke, exercise lesser, binge or skip meals and eventually lead to an increase in their blood pressure. Let’s take smoking as an example. People often smoke to relieve their stress as the nicotine in the cigarette produces dopamine which causes feelings of pleasure and relaxation, which the body craves for it again and again and it often leads to an addiction. However, the perceived “relaxation” is causing a negative impact to the body as it is experiencing increased stress which increases the blood pressure and heart rate. The muscles will then become tensed up and less oxygen will be able to reach the body and brain. Smoking damages the heart and blood circulation, which will trigger acute coronary events such as CHD, heart attack and stroke.

I feel that it is advisable for Maria to heed Tandra’s advice to visit the doctors as the symptoms that she is currently having or facing (negative emotions, stress and emotional pressure) could lead to a serious health problem if she choose to ignore it. Most people feel that they will be fine after a period of but it is better to be safe than sorry. Heading to the doctor for a check-up will allow Maria to be aware of her condition and how she can better handle the negative stress that she is currently experiencing.

Besides visiting the doctors, there are also other ways for Maria to better manage her stress and negative emotions. For example, she can have a positive change in lifestyle by having a healthy diet and being more active physically. For example, exercising can have a positive impact on both her physical and mental health as it boosts serotonin, endorphins (which helps one to enlighten the mood) and other feel good chemicals to the brain. These trigger the growth of new brain cells and connections which acts like antidepressant.

Also, it is important to have a positive social support from family and friends as it improves one’s well-being and to have better coping skills. A positive social circle can also help to reduce one’s stress as they can encourage each other to be positive and overlook the negative thoughts.

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