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Cardiovascular Disease

Undestanding and Prevent Cardiovascular Diseases

5. What can go wrong with my heart?

Various things can go wrong with your heart:


  • A problem with the pump: the muscle might become weak (thin) or too thick (hypertrophy);
  • Damage to your valves: they might become narrow or develop leaks;
  • Your coronary arteries might become narrowed or blocked; or
  • The ‘electrics’ might fail: they might short circuit and go too fast or too slow or alternate between fast and slow.

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6. Coronorary heart disease

We go to use both terms. Coronary artery disease is caused by a hardening or narrowing of the arteries to your heart. The medical term is atheroma or atherosclerosis. Patches of the inner lining of the arteries become furred up from a mixture of fat, cholesterol and cells deposited in the wall. Veins, unlike arteries, do not ‘fur up’ unless they are asked to do the work of arteries, for example after a bypass operation. If you think of an artery as a three-lane motorway, the narrowed part of the artery is like a lane of the motorway being coned off; the flow of blood is restricted a bit like the traffic is slowed down as it tries to filter into the lanes that are open.


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7.Risks of smoking


Question: I have smoked since my teens just as my father and grand father did. My father is still alive and my grandfather lived until he was 65. What are my risks of heart disease?


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8. Risks of High Blood Pressure

Facts and figures

Question:  Can you tell me more about blood pressure? Why is it serious if it becomes high?

Answer: We need a blood pressure to send blood around our bodies. It is needed to overcome the resistance of the smaller blood vessels. The arteries in the body have muscle in their walls to give them tone. If this muscle is supple, the arteries can relax, their size or width increases and blood flows more easily. Think of the artery like a garden hose pipe: if you turn the tap on, water flows easily – now clamp the pipe to reduce its size by half and water will need more pressure to get through to give the same flow. In a similar way, the heart pumps the blood through the arteries but, if your arteries get smaller, the pressure will need to rise in order to force the blood through. The top pressure, known as the systolic pressure (pronounced ‘sis-tol-ick’), is the pressure created by your heart beating and coincides with your pulse; the bottom pressure, known as the diastolic pressure (pronounced ‘die-a-stol-ick’), is the reading when your heart is relaxing. The readings should not be more than 140/90 mmHg. Hg is the symbol for mercury which used to be in the column of the blood pressure machine.


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9. Risks of High Cholesterol Levels


Question: There is a lot of talk these days about lipids and cholesterol and now I’ve seen something about triglycerides! I am rather muddled about it all. Can you tell me what all these words mean?

Answer: Cholesterol is a fatty or oily substance and is one of a group of fatty substances we call lipids. Lipids are essential for the normal functioning of the body’s cells. Problems develop when there is too much lipid in the blood. It then settles in the walls of the arteries.


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