The term “heart disease” refers to a medical condition termed as Cardiovascular Disease (CVD). Usually, it refers to any health condition that arises due to blocked blood vessels in or near the heart or clotting of blood cells. It also refers to any other factor that affects the natural flow of blood to and from the heart. First Aid Kits can assist in some situations when prepared correctly.
Heart disease in Australia
Consider the following statistics published by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. About 1.2 million (close to 6.2%) Australians aged above 25 suffer from one or more heart diseases. CVD accounted for the death of 42,300 people in 2019 alone. As per the latest statistics released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, ischemic heart disease (caused by a deficiency in blood flow to the heart) caused 9,271 deaths between January and August 2021.
Heart disease is considered to be the most significant single reason leading to death in Australia. Read on to know the important causes of heart disease and how to avoid them.
Causes of heart disease
Multiple factors might lead to heart diseases. Even healthy adults may develop serious heart diseases if they do not maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Some major lifestyle disorders behind heart disease are as follows:
- Smoking: Consumption of cigarettes is a primary cause of heart diseases. Even a couple of cigarettes per day can lead to multiple complications. Smoking clogs the coronary arteries and hampers blood flow to the heart. This increases the risk of a heart attack or stroke. The risk is even greater for women who smoke as well as consume contraceptive pills. Smoking also increases the risk of Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD).
- Drinking: Excessive drinking is completely contraindicated to good heart health. Alcohol is classified as a ‘depressant’ because it affects your brain’s control of your body and slows down your motor functions. Consumption of excessive quantities of alcohol may lead to “cardiomyopathy”. It is a disorder that excessively loosens the heart muscles and reduces heart rate. Drinking also causes hypertension (chronic high blood pressure) which can ultimately result in a heart attack or stroke. There is no “safe” limit to drinking. Even a standard drink of beer or any other spirit increases the risk.
- Poor, unbalanced diet: A healthy diet balanced in all types of nutrients and vitamins is an important part of our lives. Blanched and tossed vegetable salads, whole fruits, lean meats, eggs, fish, cereals, nuts, and seeds – constitute a healthy diet. Eating deep-fried items or high salt fast foods such as pizzas and grilled meat burgers cause dietary problems. Eating add-on fats such as extra cheese or mayonnaise only increases the risk of heart diseases.
- Lack of physical activity or exercise: Regular physical activity and exercise keep your heart healthy. Cardio exercises ensure that the coronary blood vessels are not blocked by fat deposits. Spending some time exercising daily will keep your heart active and healthy. On the other hand, living a sedentary life glued to a desk or your bed can have multiple adverse effects on heart health.
- Depression and anxiety: Considered the most prominent mental health issues in recent times, depression and/or anxiety disorders contribute to heart disease greatly. When you are depressed or suffering an anxiety attack, your heart rate increases. Additionally, your body releases a stress hormone named “cortisol” in very high amounts. Cortisol can increase blood cholesterol levels and blood pressure, both of which contribute to heart diseases.
Some major medical reasons for heart disease are as follows:
- Congenital heart disease: This refers to a major structural anomaly of the heart. Congenital heart defects include problems such as a missing ventricle or a hole in the wall between the coronary chambers. These defects include atypical heart valves, septal defects, or atresia (a missing heart valve).
- Arrhythmia: The term refers to irregular heartbeat caused by a lack of coordination of the nervous electrical impulses that control the coronary muscles. It may cause the heart to beat faster than usual (termed “tachycardia”), slower than usual (termed “bradycardia”) or produce irregular heartbeat (“atrial fibrillation”).
- Cardiomyopathy: This refers to a disease of the heart muscles. It results in the heart failing to pump an adequate volume of blood in and out. Cardiomyopathy can result in the accumulation of extra blood in the heart or a deficit of blood in other parts of the body. These can ultimately result in heart failure or stroke.
- Mitral valve regurgitation: It occurs when the mitral valve in the heart does not close tightly enough. This causes outgoing blood to flow back into the heart and can exert excessive pressure on the coronary chambers. The heart can become enlarged, and you may suffer from heart failure.
- Aortic stenosis: This condition causes the pulmonary valve to become thicker than usual or fused. As a result, it does not open correctly. This makes it hard for the heart to pump blood from the left ventricle into the aorta. This may be a congenital anomaly, or it may develop over time as a result of calcium deposits. The lack of blood flow results in heart diseases.
How to avoid heart diseases due to lifestyle disorders
The best way to prevent heart diseases is to keep your heart active and healthy. You should maintain a healthy lifestyle and follow the suggestions below:
- Avoid junk food, smoking, and drinking to the greatest extent possible. This is a rule of thumb.
- Follow a fixed, healthy diet that is balanced in nutrients. You may consult a nutritionist and obtain a customized diet chart.
- Consult a fitness expert and spend some time exercising daily.
- Speak with a therapist if you feel severely depressed, exhausted, or mentally disturbed.