Coronary heart disease remains the number one cause of death in the United States. Although New Mexico is ranked fairly low among these statistics, it is the only state which is not making progress in reducing that number. In other words, the rest of the nation is getting better at preventing cardiovascular, or coronary heart disease while NM is not. So, what are our neighboring states doing that we are not? How can you prevent coronary heart disease?
The Cause of Coronary Heart Disease
To better understand how to prevent coronary artery disease, it helps to know the root cause. So, what causes heart attack and stroke?
The root cause of this heart disease is the buildup of fat deposits in the walls of the arteries near the heart. These arteries are responsible for the flow of blood throughout the body. Just as a sink in our house can become clogged and cause problems, these arteries can become clogged. Of course, a clogged sink is minor compared to a clogged artery.
When there is buildup of what is termed atheroma, the arteries narrow. This process is called atherosclerosis. This results in increased blood pressure because the heart has to work harder to pump the same blood through the narrowed passages. If the blood flow is restricted completely, the heart becomes starved for blood and shuts down. The heart is a pump and as with any pump, when something is not flowing through, it eventually stops. This is a heart attack.
How Do You Prevent Coronary Heart Disease?
As with any pump, anything which adds to the strain on the pump will cause a failure. The human heart is no different. Thus, the key to preventing coronary heart disease is to find ways to reduce the strain and stress on the pump. In the case of the heart, much is known about the things which cause additional pressure and strain.
For starters, the fatty buildup which narrows the arteries near the heart is caused by a high fat diet, especially saturated fats. So, avoiding foods which are fatty is wise. In fact, your primary care physician may have already discussed having your cholesterol levels checked. This is because high cholesterol is a fat made by the liver from the saturated fat we consume. If there is a high cholesterol level, there is bound to be buildup in the walls of the arteries.
Another factor to pay attention to his blood pressure. High blood pressure is high pressure on the heart, the pump. Diabetes too can cause heart disease because it causes the blood vessels themselves to thicken, which restricts blood flow. And cigarette smoke causes damage to the lining of the arteries while nicotine and carbon monoxide places additional strain on the heart muscle.
Inactivity enhances all these effects
People who do not get ample exercise have an increased risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). Something as simple as walking 20 minutes per day can reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke.
The best way to prevent CHD is to avoid smoking, foods high in saturated fats, and engage in regular exercise.
If you have high blood pressure or diabetes, make regular trips to your primary care physician and or specialist. They will monitor your condition. If you have a family history of heart disease or have had a previous heart attack or stroke, you should also see a cardiologist.
If you need a primary care physician, an endocrinologist for your diabetes, or a cardiologist, Kymera Independent Physicians provides them in four convenient locations. For more than 22 years, Kymera has been helping our neighbors in SENM battle coronary heart disease. Why not make an appointment now to prevent CHD.