10 Things You Never Knew About Heart Disease from 10 Things You Never Knew About Heart Disease

10 Things You Never Knew About Heart Disease

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10 Things You Never Knew About Heart Disease

Heart disease is the number one cause of death for both men and women in the United States.

*Related: 12 Tips for Preventing Heart Disease

According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is related to a process called atherosclerosis, a condition that develops when plaque builds up in the walls of the arteries. The build-up narrows the arteries, making it harder for blood to flow through. Eventually a blood clot may form; it can stop the blood flow which can cause a heart attack or stroke.

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Heart attack pain may not be felt in the heart

“You will have heard of some people having heart pain in their arm or jaw; this is called referred pain and is a result of the embryological development of the heart,” Cardiologist Dr. Warrick Bishop says. “Internal organs like the heart don’t have the special nerve receptors that allow us to pinpoint a sensation as on the skin. Internal organs tend to pick up “general” sensation nerves from areas that are nearby during development; hence, heart pain can be felt in the neck and arm as well as the chest and even the back and shoulders and is characteristically generalized, not localized.” So always be aware and cautious of any new unexplained symptoms, he adds.

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You should stay away from sugar

Sugar is the fastest way to raise your cholesterol/triglycerides,” Amie Skilton, Naturopath, Nutritionist, Herbalist, says. “Old-fashioned dietary advice tends to still focus on fat but excess and poor quality carbohydrates are a much bigger issue.”

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Vitamin D deficiency may have an effect

“Poor blood sugar and insulin regulation is a key part of heart disease but vitamin D deficiency can also lead to an increase in blood sugar and subsequent insulin resistance,” Skilton says.

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Your heart only has three main arteries

“This system consists of the right coronary artery and left main coronary artery. Within one centimeter, the left coronary artery divides into two main arteries: the left anterior descending artery which provides blood to the anterior surface of the heart, that is the surface nearest the chest wall, and the circumflex artery which supplies blood to the back of the heart or the surface of the heart nearest the spine,” Bishop says. “The right coronary artery supplies the inferior surface of the heart or the surface that is nearest the diaphragm. The major arteries comprise fewer than 35cm in total length and fewer than five millimeters in diameter at their largest.”

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Resistance exercise is important

Physical activity is important, and all forms are helpful, but resistance exercise to build muscle mass should be a top priority in order to improve carbohydrate metabolism as well as boosting hormonal health,” Skilton says.

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A broken heart can look like a heart attack

Believe it or not there really is such a thing as broken heart syndrome. “It is not an urban myth that occasionally very severe emotional trauma or stress can lead to someone having chest pain and all the features of a heart attack and even occasionally dying from it,” Bishop says. “This literal breaking of the heart has been recognised in more recent years by the medical community as a syndrome that is referred to as Takotsubo syndrome. This is a Japanese name that refers to the shape of the heart, which is described as that of an octopus pot, a narrow opening and wide base. The syndrome is characterised by severe emotional stress affecting an individual.”

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Cholesterol lowering medication does reduce heart attack

“Lots of information turns up in social media and the popular press questioning the role of cholesterol lowering medications and in particular the statins get a hammering,” Bishop says. “With regard to patients who have demonstrated themselves to be at very high risk of a heart attack, by having a near or complete coronary event, the data is crystal clear that stains will reduce risk of a further event.” Some data also suggests that if we can get cholesterol levels in the blood low enough, we might see reversal of the buildup in the arteries, he adds.

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Your heart health can be scanned

“In 2017 there is technology that allows us to look at the health of an individual’s arteries. We can use CT scanning and this gives us an insight that we have only ever been able to dream of before,” Bishop says. “It can provide valuable information on buildup of plaque in the arteries and help decide on individual treatment plans. It can be particularly helpful if there is a family history of heart disease, or perhaps troubles taking medication for the heart.” However, it is not for everyone. Bishop has written a book to provide background and help start a conversation for patients and doctors alike. *Click here to purchase his eBook (use the code WB30 for 30% off).

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Going to bed earlier may lower your risk

According to the National Sleep Foundation, individuals who don’t sleep enough are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease. A recent study showed that people who slept fewer than six hours per night were about two times more likely to have a stroke or heart attack than people who slept six to eight hours per night.

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Excessive sitting has been linked to heart disease

From driving to sitting in the office chair and watching television on the couch, we sit more than we may realize. According to Harvard Health Publications, “some research suggests that it has harmful effects on sugar and fat metabolism, both of which affect a person’s risk of diabetes and heart disease, says Dr. I-Min Lee, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.”

10 Things You Never Knew About Heart Disease