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Living in the Shadow of Heart Disease

Essay by   •  January 3, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  1,300 Words (6 Pages)  •  1,425 Views

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Living in the Shadow of Heart Disease

In the United States, every year more than 1 million Americans suffer from a heart attack. This number although it may not seem like a lot, is indeed quite high. Heart disease is a major killer that can in fact be controlled. If more people would watch what they eat, do simple exercises, and restrict physically damaging activities, such as smoking, they could lower their risk of a heart attack or heart disease. Many people do things that short term, have little to no consequences, but if continued, could cause severe heart damage with little to no warning. People may not even know they are doing these things, and need to be informed about them. As the years have gone by, the U.S. has become increasingly obese. Heart attacks need to be properly addressed so that people can do more to prevent them. People need to be informed of the risk factors of a heart attack, the effects of a heart attack, and the post-heart attack care needed to stay healthy.

There are many risk factors to a heart attack, some more obvious than others, but all play an equal role in the event of a heart attack. The reason a heart attack occurs is because the arteries that serve as the means of oxygen for the heart get a clot in them. This is because over time, fatty deposits build up in the artery walls. When a clotting material, such as a blood platelet, gets stuck in-between the narrowed artery walls, a heart attack occurs from lack of oxygen to the heart muscle. Simply staying disciplined can control many risk factors that can lead to a heart attack. Smoking, unhealthy eating habits, and lack of physical activity can play a huge role in the fate of ones heart. Eating foods that are not processed are the healthiest choice. According to Health-Heart Online, when food gets processed, it "[looses] 60-95% of the heart healthy nutrients" and turns vitamin F-3, otherwise known as omega-3 oil, into the recently discovered and highly toxic, trans fat ("Nutrition, Health & Heart Disease"). By eating foods that are high in omega 3 oils, one can lower their risk significantly. The diseases that one becomes most prone to by consuming these foods are, according to Sam Skramovsky, are, "congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, mitro-valve prolapse" (Interview). Risk factors that are beyond ones control are genetic history, age, being male, being post-menopausal, and even ones race. According to a study conducted by the Cleveland Clinic, "African Americans, American Indians, and Mexican Americans are more likely to have heart disease than Caucasians" ("Risk Factors for Heart Disease"). Skramovsky also points out that, "some common triggers are stress and strenuous activity (Interview). The best way to avoid heart attack for people who have these uncontrollable risks is schedule regular visits with their doctor, and exercise as much as possible. High cholesterol is another major risk that many people suffer from. There are two kinds of cholesterol. LDL (the bad kind) and HDL (the good kind). Too much LDL in ones diet can lead to clotting of the bloodstream, which in turn, causes a heart attack. Luckily it's a risk that can be controlled. By eating foods lower in fat and cholesterol, one can lower the LDL levels in their body. People who have exceptionally high levels of LDL cholesterol may want to talk to a doctor about a prescription for medicine that can lower those levels. People who don't take the steps to reduce their chance of heart attack are putting themselves at greater risk. Heart attacks can come suddenly and without warning. People who are in the best heart healthy shape are the most likely to survive. If someone does experience and survive a heart attack, the damage it leaves behind can be quite severe.

Most people don't know it, but after a heart attack the heart becomes weakened. Skramovsky states that in a heart attack, the biggest damage is, "death to heart muscle and heart tissue (Interview). The attack leaves behind un-repairable damage. When a heart attack occurs, the area of the heart that was deprived of oxygen dies. Results from a study conducted by the Cleveland Clinic, shows, "healing of the heart muscle begins soon after a heart attack and takes about 8 weeks" ("Heart Attacks"). Unfortunately, the newly repaired heart muscle doesn't work as well. That is because, like in human skin, scar tissue forms over the damaged area. The ability to pump blood from the scared over area is lessened, which means the endurance and stamina of someone may be lowered. Not only do heart attacks cause damage to the heart, but can also cause death. This is from the lack of oxygen flowing to the brain because the heart is not longer functioning. According to Cardiology Channel Online, "permanent brain damage and death can occur when the brain is deprived of blood flow for longer than 5 minutes"("Heart Attack"). Not everyone who suffers a heart attack dies. The sooner a heart attack is recognized, the less damage will occur, and a greater chance to live is present. Many options are available for a person who has suffered a heart attack.

There are many solutions to a heart attack. Some are as simple

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