Causes of Heart Disease

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Causes of Heart Disease

Heart disease or coronary heart disease (CHD) is mainly caused by

Atherosclerosis. This occurs when the inner lining of your artery

walls becomes furred with a thick, atheroma which is made up of fatty

deposits of cholesterol, cell waste and other substances. These form

raised patches on the artery wall known as 'plaques' which narrow the

arteries reducing the space through which blood can flow. At the same

time the blood becomes more prone to clotting.

The growing plaques may block the delivery of nutrients to the artery

walls, causing them to lose their elasticity. This in turn may lead to

high blood pressure, which also increases the risk of coronary heart


When the arteries become narrowed the blood and oxygen supply to the

heart muscle is restricted, particularly when you exert yourself and

the demands of the heart muscle increase.

It has been recognised that the risk of developing coronary heart

disease increases with age. Atherosclerosis takes a long time to

develop and the arteries naturally become less elastic as we age,

often leading to a greater risk of high blood pressure.

Women have been proven to be at higher risk of contracting heart

disease than any other disease. However, the female sex hormone,

oestrogen, creates a more favourable balance of blood fats and

contributes to the elasticity and health of the arteries which help to

reduce blood pressure and therefore protects against coronary heart

disease during the reproductive years. However, after the menopause,

or following a total hysterectomy this natural protection can

disappear and therefore these women are more at r...

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and also appear to increase blood clotting.

These findings help explain how other risk factors for coronary heart

disease may exert their damage; for instance, smoking, age, kidney

disease and inactivity lead to raised homocystein levels, which then

leads to a higher risk of developing heart disease.

There are a number of factors that can increase your chances of having

heart disease. Some of theses, such as your age, your gender or your

ethnic group you cannot control and therefore these people cannot

blame themselves for developing heart disease. However, some risk

factors you do have some control over, such as what you eat, whether

you smoke and the amount of exercise you take. So it is possible to

say that for these people it is possible for them to blame themselves

for developing heart disease.
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