What causes heart disease?
Heart disease affects the blood vessels and cardiovascular system. Several different problems can result from this, many of which are related to a process called atherosclerosis, a condition that develops when plaque builds up in the walls of the arteries. This buildup narrows the arteries, making it harder for blood to flow through. If a blood clot forms, it can stop the blood flow, causing a heart attack or stroke.
Unfortunately, heart disease can take many other forms as well, including:
- Heart failure or congestive heart failure, which means that the heart is still working, but it isn’t pumping blood as well as it should, or getting enough oxygen.
- Arrhythmia or an abnormal rhythm of the heart, which means the heart is either beating too fast, too slow or irregularly. This can affect how well the heart is functioning and whether or not the heart is able to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs.
- Heart valve problems can lead to the heart not opening enough to allow proper blood flow. Sometimes the heart valves don’t close and blood leaks through, or the valve leaflets bulge or prolapse into the upper chamber, causing blood to flow backward through them.
How can you prevent heart disease?
Some heart disease risks can be controlled, some cannot, but with the right education and care, heart disease in women can be treated and prevented.
Studies show that healthy choices have resulted in 330 fewer women dying from heart disease per day. Here are some lifestyle changes that contribute to this number:
- Don’t smoke
- Manage blood sugar
- Lower and maintain a healthy blood pressure
- Lower and maintain a healthy cholesterol
- Stay active and exercise regularly
- Lose weight and maintain a healthy weight
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet