The heart is a muscular pump whose main function is to pump blood through the blood vessels so that it reaches all organs and tissues of the body.
A heart attack occurs when blood supply to the heart is severely reduced or stopped. If the blood supply stops for more than a few minutes, the muscles of the heart can be permanently injured and die. Depending on the damage, the heart attack can be fatal. Sometimes the blood flow to the heart is slightly diminished and causes chest pain or angina.
The most common reason for the blockage – though not the only one - is atherosclerosis or plague that builds up inside the arteries that supply the heart with blood. This plague is made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium, muscle and immune cells and other substances.
The typical symptoms of a coronary heart disease for men are chest pain, pain in the neck, shoulder, arm, jaw or abdomen, shortness of breadth, nausea and perspiration. For women chest pain is usually less severe. Instead they are likely to suffer more of unusual fatigue, sleep disturbance and shortness of breadth.
When the plague build up reduce the supply of blood to the brain, it can cause a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or a stroke. A transient ischemic attack is when a person experienced a sudden loss of brain function but recovers completely within 24 hours. More dangerous is a hemorrhagic stroke where a blood vessel in the brain bursts.
Possible symptoms of a stroke or TIA include paralysis on one side of the body, jumbled speech or inability to comprehend speech, poor coordination, muscle weakness, loss of vision in one eye or paralysis of facial muscles, dizziness and rapid involuntary eye movements.
When the supply of blood to heart is reduced or stopped it is known as a coronary heart disease. When the supply of blood to the brain is reduced or stopped it is called a cerebrovascular disease.
What are the major risk factors for heart disease?
According to the medical community, high blood cholesterol is one of the factors.
Others include smoking cigarette, being overweight, being a male, stress, lack of exercise, diabetes, family history of heart disease and advancing age!