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Heart Disease

Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)

CHD is a non specific term for syndromes where there is decreased blood flow to the heart.

The coronary artery supplies the heart with nutrients. It branches from the ascending aorta and encircles the heart like a crown.

When the heart relaxes the pressure in the arteries causes blood to flow into the coronary artery, thus providing the heart itself with blood. After all the heart is a muscle and it needs its own blood supply to work.

So what happens when there is a decrease in the blood flow to the heart?

You get angina. This is chest pain. This is due to decreased blood flow to the heart muscle, which causes a build up of lactic acid from anaerobic respiration taking place and therefore pain.

Pain and discomfort increases as the heart works harder to pump more blood to gain oxygen in the heart tissues through narrowed arteries.

Pain can be referred into the neck, jaw and down the left arm.

Heart Attack/ Myocardial Infarction (MI)

A heart attack is caused when there is a complete obstruction of the coronary artery, tissue distal to the obstruction dies and is replaced by non-contractile tissue. This causes a decrease in the hearts strength to pump blood around the body.

Symptoms of a MI

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Anxiousness

Narrowing of the coronary artery can be caused by smoking and obesity due to the formation of fatty plaques developing on the artery walls, a condition known as Atherosclerosis. These plaques can also break away from the artery as well as block it and can block blood vessels elsewhere in the body. Eg they can cause a stroke.

If you have any questions, please use the comment form below or post a thread on the forums.

— sarah @ 11:15 pm, January 11, 2007

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