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Five Things You Need to Know About Heart Disease

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for many Americans. Every year, about 697,000 Americans die from heart disease. Heart disease is a term for conditions that affect your heart, including coronary artery disease, heart failure, valvular heart disease, and arrhythmia. Here are some essential things you need to know about it.

Plaque and the Heart

Heart disease is a buildup of plaque in your coronary arteries, and it comprises fat, cholesterol, and other substances found in the blood. Plaque can block your coronary arteries and reduce blood flow to your heart muscle. A coronary artery becomes blocked when a blood clot forms on the plaque. This can cause a heart attack. There are various ways you can prevent plaque buildup in your heart. Here are some of the most common options:

Healthy Eating

You can help keep your heart healthy by eating a healthy diet. This means consuming lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. You should also limit your intake of saturated and trans fats and sodium.

Regular Exercise

Staying active and exercising regularly is another great way to prevent plaque buildup in your arteries. Exercise helps improve your cholesterol levels and reduces your blood pressure. It also enables you to maintain a healthy weight, which is vital for heart health.

Don’t Smoke

Smoking is one of the leading causes of heart disease. Cigarette smoke damages the lining of your arteries, which can lead to plaque buildup. Smoking also increases your risk of developing blood clots.

man lying in the bed for testing

Heart Failure

Heart failure does not mean that your heart has stopped working. Instead, it means your heart is not pumping as well as it should. The main symptom of heart failure is shortness of breath. Other symptoms include fatigue, trouble doing physical activity, swelling in your ankles, feet, legs, or abdomen; unexplained weight gain; and irregular heartbeat.

Valvular Heart Disease

This kind of heart disease is a problem with one or more valves in the heart that do not work properly. The valves are open and close to allow blood to flow through your heart chambers and to the rest of your body without leaking backward. If one or more valves do not open or close correctly, it is called valvular heart disease (VHD). The most common types of VHD are aortic stenosis, mitral stenosis, tricuspid valve insufficiency/regurgitation, and pulmonary valve.

Valvular Aortic Stenosis (AVS)

AVS happens when the valve between the left ventricle (lower chamber) and the aorta (the large artery that carries blood to the body) does not open fully due to calcium buildup on the valve leaflets or congenital disabilities.

Mitral stenosis (MS)

MS occurs when calcium deposits narrow or blocks the mitral valve openings. This limits the amount of blood that can flow from the left atrium into the left ventricle. In addition, MS is often caused by rheumatic fever, an inflammatory disease that can damage the heart valves.

Irregular Heartbeat

An irregular heartbeat is when your heart beats too fast, too slow, or with an irregular rhythm. This is also known as arrhythmia.

An arrhythmia is a problem with your heartbeat. During an arrhythmia, your heart can either beat too fast or too slow. Additionally, it is a type of genetic heart disease. The most common type of arrhythmia is atrial fibrillation (AFib).

AFib is when the upper chambers of your heart (the atria) beat out of sync with the lower chambers (the ventricles). This can cause blood to pool in the atria and form clots. A clot that breaks off and travels to your brain can cause a stroke.

Oral Disease and Heart Disease

Lastly, it’s important to know that oral diseases such as periodontitis are tell-tale signs of heart disease. Periodontitis is a bacterial infection of the gums that can damage the soft tissue and bone that support your teeth. As a result, people with periodontitis are at an increased risk for heart disease. There are many reasons for this. First, bacteria from gum disease can enter your bloodstream and travel to your heart.

The inflammation from periodontitis can also damage your arteries and make it harder for blood to flow to your heart. Lastly, people with periodontitis are more likely to have other risk factors for heart disease, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. So whenever you have gum disease, visit your local dental office. They can ensure that you can avoid any long-term effects of gum disease, avoid heart disease, and still have a good smile.

There you have six things you need to know about heart disease. These things can help you better understand the disease and how to protect yourself from it. Stay heart-healthy!

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