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Diet, Cardiovascular Disease & progression of Atherosclerosis

Updated on November 26, 2012

Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular Disease affects the heart and blood vessels. It is the leading cause of death and permanent disability in the United States today. A group of risk factors have been identified and are known as the metabolic syndrome, previously known as syndrome X. These risk factors apply to children as well as adults.

  • Abdominal obesity
  • High blood lipids
  • High blood pressure
  • Insulin resistance
  • Elevated highly sensitive C-reactive protein in the blood

Those diagnosed with metabolic syndrome are at increased risk for coronary heart disease, stroke, peripheral vascular disease, and type 2 diabetes.

Cardiovascular disease can be acute (sudden) or chronic. Heart attach , is an example of the acute form. Chronic heart disease develops over time and causes the loss of heart function. If the heart can maintain blood circulation, the disease classified as compensated heart disease. Compensation usually requires that the heart beat unusually fast. Consequently, the heart enlarges. If the heart cannot maintain circulation, the condition is classified as decompensated heart disease, and congestive heart failure occurs. The heart muscle,(myocardium) the valves, the lining,(endocardium) the outer covering, (pericardium) or the blood vessels may be affected by heart disease.

Atherosclerosis is the general term for vascular disease n which arteries harden, making the passage of blood difficult and sometimes impossible. Atherosclerosis is a form of arteriosclerosis believed to begin in childhood and is considered one of the major causes of heart attack. Atherosclerosis affects the inner lining of arteries, where deposits of cholesterol, fats, and other substances accumulate over time, thickening and weakening artery walls. These deposits (plaque) reduce the size of lumen of the artery, and consequently, the amount of blood flow. The reduced blood flow causes an inadequate supply of nutrients and oxygen dilivery to and waste removal from the tissues. The reduced oxygen supply causes pain, When the pain occurs in the chest and radiates down the left arm, it is called angina pectoris and should be considered a warning. When the lumen narrows so that a blood clot occurs in a coronary artery and blood flow is cut off, a heart attack occurs. Many patients who experience a heart attack require surgery to bypass the clogged artery. The procedure is a coronary artery bypass graft, which is commonly referred to as bypass surgery.

Risk Factors

Hyperlipidemia, hypertension ,and smoking are major risk factors for the development of atherosclerosis. Other contributory factors are obesity, diabetes, male sex, heredity, and high stress. Diet can alleviate hypertension, reduce obesity, and help control diabetes. A sedentary lifestyle can be changed with exercise.

Progression of atherosclerosis



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    • Skarlet profile image

      Skarlet 5 years ago from California

      Thank you so much for your comment KoffeeKlatch Gals, love the name. I am so sorry to hear about hour heart attack in June. That is so frightening. I hope you are doing well now.

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 5 years ago from Sunny Florida

      You have provided a wonderful, easy to understand explaination of heart disease in different forms. I had a heart attack last June and was in Critical for several days. I found out that I have an enlarged heart, congestive heart failure and atherosclerosis. It was quite alot to digest all at the same time. Up and awesome.