A lot of people think that the best way to prevent coronary artery disease is to eat a healthy diet. While that does hold a heavyweight, at times – it can be caused by other things. Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) is when the arteries weaken and thin out after taking too much damage. The wear-and-tear nature of CAD is what makes Coronary Artery Disease one of the most common heart diseases.
However, to prevent and treat Coronary Artery Disease, it’s best first to learn what exactly causes the disease. By understanding the cause and nature of the disease, treating Coronary Artery Disease can be a lot easier.
What is Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)?
Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) is either the hardening, the weakening, or the thinning of the arteries after wear-and-tear. However, most CAD incidents occur when there is a blood clot in the arteries. That moment when the oxygenated blood is unable to pass due to the faulty arteries can then lead to heart attacks. And if not intervened, the person having the said heart attack can die soon after.
What are the causes of Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)?
One of the most common causes is a bad diet. If one’s diet is composed heavily of sugar, fat, and protein, it can cause plaque to build up inside the arteries. When the plaque builds up inside the arteries, it can become more difficult for the blood to pass through.
How does that become a bad thing? The circulatory system in the body is linked up with the respiratory system. The respiratory system is what attaches oxygen to the blood, distributing oxygen all around the body. However if this pathway is interrupted then, a part of the body becomes deprived of oxygen. To increase the oxygen amount, the heart pumps harder as there is already internal distress (the bad kind of stress). And the increased pressure then further damages the arteries just so the oxygen can travel all around the body.
It can’t be just a bad diet! I’m eating fine and I still got a heart attack!
Yes, that’s true. While bad diets are one of the most common causes, there are other risk factors which can increase the chances. Risk Factors are not necessarily tangible but they are something which increases the chances of one being afflicted with CAD (Coronary Artery Disease). Some risk factors can be genetic and other risk factors can be induced.
Some of these risk factors include:
When a person is obese, the veins are either stretched or being squashed by pressure. In order for blood to pass through, the body makes the heart pump harder so the body can get its daily dose of oxygen. Obesity also notes that there is a presence of plaque present in the arteries, further forcing the heart to pump more blood. Obesity is often caused by overeating which increases insulin resistance and prevents the body from breaking down the sugar and carbohydrates properly.
There are two kinds of stress: eustress and distress. While eustress involves endorphins, distress occurs with heightened levels of adrenaline with fight or flight as the body’s main responses. Those who are in highly psychologically toxic environments can further destroy the body’s arteries. One is because of the constantly stressful situation which triggers the body’s fight or flight response. Because this system is activated constantly, the heart is pumping more than ever in case an immediate response is required. And if the individual is into eating as a means of coping with psychological distress, even more so the plaque will build up. The cause of this happens in two pathways: insulin and cortisol. Because one eats more when stressed, it can lead to overeating which is directly responsible for the increased insulin resistance. And cortisol, the hormone for stress which pumps in adrenaline suppresses the effect of Leptin, a metabolic hormone meant to break down fats.
Hypertension can be caused psychologically or it can be in-born. This would mean an individual is more susceptible to cortisol production which influences the production of adrenaline and the suppression of Leptin. Hypertension can also lead to increased blood pressure which would further damage the arteries.
Irregular Heartbeat Rhythms
This can be caused by Arrhythmia which is a genetic disorder where the heart does not pump properly. Or, can be caused by heightened levels of stress.
Diabetes is often caused by increased insulin resistance and low sugar tolerance. And when the pancreas is incapable of producing insulin, there are higher chances of plaque forming in the arteries. More plaque means higher chances of CAD.
Okay, now that I know what causes Coronary Artery Disease. What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of Coronary Artery Disease are usually:
Also commonly known as “chest pains”. These chest pains occur because the heart is not getting enough oxygen-rich blood.
The brain is not getting enough blood and more energy is devoted to getting the blood through the heart. Because of this, the body shuts down certain functions in order to compensate and devote more energy to the heart to get the blood through.
Vomiting can be caused by nausea which is a sign of imbalance. Another is that the body discovers its currently incapable of breaking down food. And when it does, it’ll force the body to upchuck as a means to get rid of it.
Clammy Hands or Sweating
The body is trying to stabilize itself by sweating. Because there’s an increase in pressure, there’s also an increase in heat. In order to cool the body down, the body begins to sweat to prevent one’s body from burning too high.
Anxiety attacks can lead to Heart Attacks due to the increased stress. Because of the increased stress, there’s increased pressure against the arteries which can trigger CAD.
How to Treat or Prevent CAD
Always remember that prevention is better than intervention. However, most people are not sure how to cope with CAD when it does happen. So, here are ways to arrest CAD before or when it happens.
Before CAD happens (Prevention)
- Eat a balanced diet. While this advice sounds extremely repetitive, it’s for good reason. Relying purely on fat and carbohydrates to carry you out the day can be hard and can induce the body into thinking you’re overeating. Because you’re overeating, your body will soon build an immunity to insulin which can lead to diabetes and CAD.
- Exercise. Exercise is what will burn the carbohydrates and sugar.
- Drink a lot of water. Because most organic compounds soluble in water, drinking a lot of water will prevent the plaque from building up.
When CAD happens (Coronary Artery Disease Treatment)
Work into an exercise
Working into an exercise slowly will help your heart get used to the amount of physical work you’ll have to do. It’ll also prevent further plaque build up in your arteries.
When feeling the symptoms, get medical help right away!
Most people don’t seek medical help when it happens because they’re not sure. But it’s alright to seek medical help. Better to be safe than sorry when it occurs. And when you do find medical help, you increase your chances of surviving the Heart Attack caused by CAD.
Follow your prescription
Depending on the severity of the CAD, most times it will require a trip to the hospital and surgery. After the intervention, your doctor may prescribe cholesterol-controlling medicine to help bring down the cholesterol and reduce the plaque count so that one doesn’t get another heart attack again.
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