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Heart Disease by Jenna Doisy

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Heart disease is often known as the silent killer because often times there are no symptoms until it is too late. This disease is so prevalent that it is the number one killer of both men and women. In order to learn more about this deadly disease, it is necessary to explore and understand the most common form of the disease, the risk factors involved and what treatment and preventative options are available.
The most common form of heart disease is called coronary heart or coronary artery disease.

This disease, like the name implies, affects the coronary arteries. These arteries are located on the exterior of the heart and their purpose is to supply blood and oxygen to the heart muscle. Most heart attacks result from the blockage of these necessary arteries. Coronary artery disease occurs when the arteries are narrowed or blocked by a buildup of plaque. This buildup restricts blood flow to the heart muscle which can cause a heart attack.

There are a number of elements which can increase a person’s risk of heart disease. Some of these risk factors are able to be altered and others are intrinsic to a person’s genetics and cannot be changed. The aspects of one’s life that can be altered in order to lower their risk for heart disease are avoiding tobacco, limiting saturated fat and cholesterol, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, properly treating diabetes, and managing stress. The risk factors that are genetic or intrinsic to one’s body include race, heredity, age, and gender. People who are at the statistically greatest risk for heart disease based on genetic factors are people, especially women, with a family history of heart disease, African Americans, Native Americans, Mexican Americans, and Native Hawaiians. Specifically in women, the risk of heart disease increases significantly after menopause.

The overarching problem with this ailment is that many people do not recognize that they are suffering from heart disease until after they suffer from a heart attack or a chest pain and tightness, known as angina. Some symptoms which are easy to recognize before one of these life-altering events include fatigue, shortness of breath, and weakness during regular activities. Luckily, there are treatment options available for people suffering from heart disease.

Medicine, as well as medical procedures and surgeries are the most common forms of treatment. In order to prevent an early onset of heart disease, many medical professionals suggest taking a low dose of aspirin can be beneficial because of the drug’s blood thinning properties. Drugs that are not over the counter that are prescribed as a treatment option include nitrates, diuretics, beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, ACE inhibitors, and statins. For those who are in need of a more immediate and less preventative treatment option, coronary bypass surgery has proven very helpful to those who have already suffered coronary blockages or heart attacks. This surgical technique takes a blood vessel from another area of the body and implants it in order to bypass the clogged coronary artery. The most extreme form of treatment is known as angioplasty. This surgery inserts a catheter with a balloon at the tip into a clogged artery. The balloon is then inflated in an attempt to flatten fatty deposits against the walls of the artery. After the catheter is inserted, a stent is put into place in order to keep the artery open.

Because heart disease affects so many people, it is extremely important to learn about the most common form, the risk factors associated with the disease, as well as the treatment options that are available. Hopefully, continuing to educate people will make the disease less prevalent going forward.

Works Cited:

Underwood III, Dr. Jefferson. “Heart Disease: It’s Not Just for Men.” The Montgomery Advertiser. Gannet, 20 Mar. 2012. Web. 24 Mar. 2012. <http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/article/20120320/LIFESTYLE/303200002/Heart- disease-s-not-just-men?odyssey=mod%7Cnewswell%7Ctext%7CFrontpage%7Cs>.

Board, A.D.A.M. Editorial. “Heart Disease and Women.” Heart Disease and Women. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 23 May 2011. Web. 24 Mar. 2012. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0004458/>.

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Donatelle, Rebecca J. “Chapter 11.” Health: The Basics. San Francisco, CA: Benjamin Cummings, 2011. 355-65. Print.



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