cause of coronary artery disease
a diagramtical illustrationClick thumbnail to view full-size
a brief introduction
What is coronary artery disease?
Sometimes people wonder why a perfectly functioning organ will start to malfunctions despite all the shields giving to it. But the fact remains that anything that has life, also have the ability to deteriorate with time and this also applicable to our dear heart and arteries.
Medical researches and findings have helped us to understand that coronary artery disease otherwise short formed CAD, is a health condition in which plaque gradually builds up inside the blood-carrying coronary arteries of the heart. And we all know that it is this artery that supplies our heart with oxygen-rich blood, which is essential to the muscles in the heart.
Therefore, this plaque blocks or reduces the free and easy passage of blood to the heart.
And plaque is a material that is made up of cholesterol, fat, calcium, and other substances found in the human blood. When these plaques builds up in the coronary arteries, it results to a health condition called atherosclerosis.
When these plaques have sufficiently built up in the coronary arteries, it will now result to a partial or total blocking of oxygen-rich blood flowing into the heart muscles. And in some cases, it may lead to the clotting of blood in the artery, which also slows down the passage of blood into the heart, thereby resulting to what we now refer to as Angina or simply what we all know as heart attack.
This effect that we now refer to as Angina, is a severe chest pain that occurs when insufficient oxygen-rich blood is flowing to an area of the heart muscle. Most times, Angina pains come in the form of pressure or squeezing in the chest. Though not often, a person suffering from Angina may also experience pain in the shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or even back.
The above effect, is the basic cause of most heart attacks we see today, which arises when a particular part of the heart muscle is not getting enough or sufficient oxygen-rich blood, which may also lead to a partial stroke or heart stiffening.
THE INNER HEARTClick thumbnail to view full-size
The common symptoms of Coronary Artery Disease:
CAD is a very dangerous ailment, it tortures the patient, and even those around him or her through the pains it inflicts on the patient. Like in every other aspect of life, a stitch in time saves nine. So the earlier you are able to identify this condition of health, the better it is for you to seek corrective and preventive measures.
The most common symptom of CAD is Angina or what may be called chest pain, discomfort, aching, etc. these symptoms include: irregular heart beats, discomfort in other areas of the upper body including the arms, back, neck, jaw, left shoulder, or stomach. Difficulty in breathing, continuous sweating, indigestion, some times a feeling of heartburn, nausea, dizziness, extreme weakness etc.
Despite all that I have just said, I must also let you know that CAD symptoms vary with gender, which makes the symptom of CAD in men to be quite different with those in men. In women. The most common symptoms of CAD (heart disease) in women are:
Pain over the chest that travels to the arm or jaw
A burning sensation in the chest or upper abdomen
Shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, dizziness, sweating, fatigue and nausea.
The AtherosclerosisClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Cause of Coronary Artery Disease
What are the things that cause Coronary Artery Disease?
Still building my facts around proven medical and scientific researches, coronary artery disease develops when some factors destroy the inner layers of the coronary arteries, as briefed in the first, second and third paragraphs. Among these distinctive factors include:
Smoking, High amounts of certain fats and cholesterol in the blood, High blood pressure, High sugar content in the blood due to some factors like insulin resistance or diabetes.
Normally, when such damage occurs, the body starts a natural healing process (because it is equipped to function this way). The body releases compounds that promote this process from its stored excess fatty tissues. And instead of doing good, this natural healing causes more plaque to build up where the arteries are damaged.
And this building up of plaques in the arteries may take years, and most times it begins at childhood and then overgrows with time, thereby succeeding in narrowing totally, the blood-passage openings of the coronary arteries.
Coronary heart disease treatment
Closer examination of the disease
Several discoveries have shown that the reason for this even distribution of pain is that the heart originates during embryonic life in the neck, in the same way as the arms. Therefore. Angina discomfort above the mandible, below the epigastrium, or confined to the ear is a rare case though. Angina discomfort has an equivalent, which include faintness, dyspnea, eructations or even fatigue, are all common symptoms, particularly in the elderly people of around 60 and above.
In a typical episode of angina pectoris, it usually begins gradually and reaches its maximum intensity over a period of some minutes before expending, and this is one of the major reasons why patients usually prefer to rest, sit or stop walking during episodes of this symptom.
Patient might experience or observe some chest discomfort while walking in the cold, uphill, or after a meal, this is a clear is indication of angina. Pain radiating into the lower extremities is also a highly unusual manifestation of angina pectoris. Angina pectoris is usually experienced by patients who develop progressive constriction of the coronary arteries and cardiac pain. This symptom usually begins to appear whenever the load on the heart becomes too heavy or much, in relation to coronary blood flow.
Variant angina is another angina syndrome that can be best described as an unusual syndrome of cardiac pain, secondary to myocardial ischemia that occurs almost exclusively at rest. Physical exertion or emotional stress does not usually cause it.
Rather, it is the result of transient increases in coronary vasospasm. Vasospasm causes a transient and abrupt, known decrease in the diameter of an epicardial (or large septa) coronary artery that results in myocardial ischemia. This event occurs in the absence of any preceding increases in myocardial oxygen demand, as reflected in an increase heart rate or blood pressure.
A measurements of cardiac vein flow and left anterior descending coronary artery diameter in patients with vasospastic angina showed that not only epicardial coronary artery, but also the coronary resistance arteries are affected by the coronary vasomotion disorder.
In patients with variant angina, basal coronary artery tone may be increased. The precise mechanism haven’t been established, but a systematic alteration in an imbalance between endothelium-derived relaxing and contracting factors have been suggested. Patients with variant angina don’t exhibit classic coronary risk factors except that they are often heavy cigarette or hemp smokers.
Further studies have proved that cigarette smoking is an important factor because it has been reported hypomagnesemia predisposes to variant angina. Attacks of variant angina tend to be in increase between midnight and very early in the morning, which sometimes occur in cluster of two to three within some minutes. Hence, this form of unstable angina occurs almost independently at rest. The symptom is uniquely identified by segment elevations on the electrocardiogram, which is always superimposed on fixed lesions.
This disease is a pain inflicting condition, that most times cause the patient to feel like giving up, if it is not earlier discovered in order to seek for early measures and treatment.
We also have the microvascular angina, which is a condition postulated of the syndrome of angina pectoris with normal arteries. Among this condition are patients with microvascular spasm, who may have developed this as a result of ischemia.
While in some patients, chest discomfort without ischemia may be due to abnormal pain perception or feelings. Subsequent hypersensitivity may result in an awareness of chest pain in response to stimuli such as arterial stretch or may be changes in heart rhythm or contractility. It is quite notable for us to know that angina-like chest pain with normal epicardial arteries occurs more frequently in women, many of whom are at their pre-menopausal period of life, while on the contrary, Obstructive Coronary Artery Disease (OCAD) is found more commonly in men, and the symptoms varies from a typical chest pain or any other of its likes.
More so, another type of angina syndrome called the acute myocardial infarction results from reduced blood flow through one of the coronary arteries, which cause myocardial ischemia and necrosis. And it is very clear that the infarction site depends on the vessels involved during this act. As experts proved that, occlusion of the circumflex coronary artery causes a lateral wall infarction; occlusion of the left anterior artery causes an anterior wall infarction. And since this result from occlusion of one of the coronary arteries, it can stem from atherosclerosis, platelet aggregation, thrombosis, or coronary spasm.
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