Statistically speaking, heart disease is the most common cause of death in the U.S. today. More than 450,000 Americans died last year from heart disease, and over 1.2 million people experience a heart attack each year.
Heart disease is any illness or disorder that affects the heart, and causes it to operate abnormally. There are different types of heart disease; the most common variety is called coronary artery disease. Everyone reading this book has probably had some experience with heart disease, either personally or through a friend or family member.
If you or someone you care about has been diagnosed with heart disease, you probably have questions about what causes heart disease, how it can be treated, and how it can be prevented. This book will attempt to address all of these issues so that you can be more informed and in control. Remember the old saying that “Knowledge is power?” It definitely holds true in the case of heart disease - the more you know, the more you can do to help treat and prevent this condition!
Heart disease is a common affliction, but as is the case with most illnesses, few people understand how heart disease happens and how it can affect the body. In order to learn more about how heart disease works, it is important to understand how the heart itself functions.
Along with the brain and the lungs, the heart is one of the three most important organs in the body. In a healthy human, the heart is a fine-tuned machine that pumps blood like clockwork. It supplies every cell in your body with life-giving, oxygen-rich blood. If anything happens to disrupt this blood flow, every cell in your body suffers.
This amazing machine is divided into four chambers. The upper 2 chambers are called atria, and the lower two chambers are called ventricles. The ventricles are responsible for pushing blood out of the heart to nourish the rest of the body. The atria hold the blood coming back into the heart, and then empty it into the ventricles.
The right ventricle and the right atrium work in concert to move blood that has been depleted of oxygen into the lungs, where it picks up a fresh supply of O2. Then, it comes back to the left side of the heart. From there, the left atrium and ventricle push it out to distribute oxygen to the rest of the body.
In addition to the muscular chambers of the heart, an assortment of valves keeps everything flowing the right way at the right time. Blood-filled tubes of various sizes are used to distribute the blood throughout the body. These tubes are known as veins and arteries. Arteries carry blood away from the heart; veins carry it back to the heart for a fresh supply of oxygen. The coronary arteries are the arteries that give fresh blood to the heart - these arteries are very important because the heart will start to die if it is not supplied with blood.
If everything is running smoothly, the heart keeps your body going by supplying it with fresh, oxygenated blood. However, this entire mechanical system is interconnected, and all of the different pieces are dependent on each other for proper functioning. If one part of the system fails, so does everything else. In a nutshell, then, heart disease occurs when any part of the cardiovascular system begins to work improperly or fail.