Heart Disease and Heart Attacks: What’s the Connection?

Heart Disease and Heart Attacks: What’s the Connection?

by Shearly (SU)

The connection between heart disease and heart attacks is clear. 

Heart disease, or cardiovascular disease, encompasses many different conditions that can lead to a heart attack. Most types of heart disease involve atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis: Most Common Cause of Heart Attacks

Atherosclerosis is characterized by plaque buildup in the arteries that carry oxygen-rich blood to the heart and the rest of the body. When plaque builds up on artery walls, it narrows the passageway and restricts blood flow.

Plaque deposits – made up of cholesterol, fat, calcium, and other substances in the blood – build up over time and harden, damaging the smooth, thin layer of tissue within arteries that allows for the easy flow of blood. And that’s not all. If some of the plaque breaks off, blood clots can form and stop blood flow.

Atherosclerosis can affect any of the arteries that carry oxygenated blood throughout the body. For example, when blood flow is blocked within the coronary arteries (the arteries taking oxygenated blood to the heart), it can result in a heart attack. When it occurs in arteries taking blood to the brain, it can result in stroke.

Heart Diseases That Also Can Lead to Heart Attacks 

While atherosclerosis is common among the heart diseases that can lead to heart attacks – there are other types of heart diseases that can result in heart attacks, too. These include:

·      Arrhythmia is a condition when the heart beats abnormally, either too fast or too slow, depending on the type of arrhythmia. When the heart beats too fast (more than 100 beats per minute), it’s called tachycardia. Bradycardia is when the heart beats too slow (less than 60 beats per minute). Either is dangerous for the heart and may cause discomfort because your heart isn’t circulating enough blood or is moving it through the body too quickly.

·      Damaged heart valves are another form of heart disease. Heart valves open and close for allowing for blood flow. There are four valves in the human heart: tricuspid, pulmonary, mitral, and aortic; each has a vital function and must open and close properly without leaking. When they don’t open wide enough, blood leaks can occur. A damaged heart valve may be incurred due to poor choices like smoking, or it might be a genetic defect. Whatever the cause, damaged valves are bad news for the heart, such as in these cases:

  •  Aortic stenosis is characterized by a narrowing of the valve, which prevents proper opening, reducing blood flow from the heart.
  •  Aortic regurgitation is characterized by leaking that’s caused when the aortic valve doesn’t close tightly enough.

Many types of heart disease can be prevented – sometimes with just a lifestyle change if the heart or blood vessels are not too far damaged. Eating foods that are low in cholesterol and eliminating bad habits like smoking will help. Your doctor can help determine the current condition of your cardiovascular system and may recommend particular treatments with a specialist if needed. 

In addition, a regular checkup can guard against heart disease and help prevent heart attacks. Advanced Medical Clinic will monitor your heart to ensure it’s healthy. And if it’s not, we will help you to get and stay on track to good heart health. Call (561) 434-1935 today to make your appointment or use our convenient online appointment request form.