Coronary heart disease or coronary artery disease (CAD) is a silent and chronic disease affecting the blood supply to the heart muscle (coronary artery). CAD affects millions if not billions of people worldwide with the prevalence has been shifted to a more younger population. It can be presented as chest pain (angina) or heart attack (myocardial infarction).
Contrary to popular belief, CAD does not necessarily need to be presented with chest pain first. In fact, a lot of CADs are presented as heart attack which if treated late can lead to cardiac death and eventually the person’s death. Here we are going to discuss the modifiable risk factors associated with CAD and how tackling these risk factors will prevent the development of CAD.
You may have heard this thousand’s of times about the danger of smoking. Smoking does not only affect your lungs but also your heart and other organs as well. In CAD, smoking has been associated and in fact, has a higher correlation in causing damage to the wall of the coronary artery. A damaged arterial wall will lead to a complex build-up of plaques in the coronary artery wall, a process known as atherosclerosis.
The resulting plaques build-up will cause the diameter of the coronary artery to become small and thus limiting the blood and oxygen delivery to the heart muscle. Being a secondary smoker also will predispose to a higher chance of getting CAD. Thus stop smoking or staying away from cigarette smoke is essential to prevent CAD development.
2. Controlling Diabetes and High Blood Pressure and Start Exercising
High blood sugar will weaken the arterial wall and hence exposing it for further inflammation and build-up of plaques. Excellent management of diabetes with good dieting, exercise and medication will reduce the chance of CAD close to a healthy population. Exercising has been shown to increase the sensitivity of the muscles, tissues and blood vessel towards insulin thus the intake of glucose by them. It can also overcome obesity and overweight problem which are another CAD risk factor as well.
Besides that, exercising is also good for the heart as it can reduce the chance of getting high blood pressure. High blood pressure will put more tearing force towards the arterial wall making it more susceptible to tear and causing plaques build-up. Exercising will make the heart muscle more uniformly enlarge which is in contrast to high blood pressure thus making the heart more adaptable to strenuous condition. A more uniform heart muscle means it can quickly get to a normal rate and pumping pressure more readily compared to high blood pressure where the heart will be put on continuous stress.
3. Good dieting and drinking habits
Good dieting comprises of having balanced meals containing more vegetables and fruits, less sugar, salts and fats content and drink less alcohol and caffeine. Too much sugar is bad for the coronary artery as explained above while high salts will lead to high blood pressure. High fats especially the saturated fats, can lead up to more plaques formation. Alcohol and caffeine also have been shown to increase CAD risk if taken excessively and too much.
In summary, CAD is a silent disease that takes years to develop. It is advisable for people of age 30 and above to have regular health screening to check not only for CAD but other diseases as well as diabetes and hypertension. Ask a doctor now if you have the risk factors above or already have the symptoms of CAD.