There is a misconception that cardiovascular disease is a disease on its own. Cardiovascular disease is a term used for many diseases that affect the heart and blood vessels that deliver blood to the brain and the rest of the body. The cause of most cardiovascular disease is a gradual clogging, thickening and hardening of the arteries that supply blood to the heart, brain and other vital organs. The thickening and hardening of the arteries is known as Atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis occurs in the walls of medium sized and large arteries due to inflammation and fat deposits.
- So what are the main cardiovascular diseases?*
Coronary Artery Disease Coronary Artery Disease affects the arteries supplying blood to the heart muscle (Coronary arteries). If the artery is severely damaged, is blocked or is affected by atherosclerosis, the blood supply to the related area of the heart will be reduced and the heart muscle affected will be damaged. This is commonly known as a heart attack. Coronary artery disease is the largest single cause of death and the most common cause of sudden death in Australia.
Stroke Stroke occurs when an artery supplying blood to a part of the brain becomes blocked or bursts. As a result, that part of the brain is damaged because it is deprived of its blood supply, which normally carries oxygen and sugar to the brain and enables it to function. Stroke claimed 9,006 lives in 2003, nearly 7% of all deaths. It affects around 217,500 Australians and 230,300 Australians had disabling conditions associated with stroke in 1998.
Heart Failure Heart Failure is a major cause of illness and the fourth largest cause of cardiovascular death, claiming 2,432 lives in 2003. Heart failure occurs when the heart muscle has become too weak that it can no longer effectively pump blood around the body as required. It can result from heart attack, high blood pressure or a damaged heart valve.
With all this in mind it is good to know that we can take control and reduce our likelihood of cardiovascular disease. The most common ways to minimize our risk are being physically active; keep a healthy weight; enjoy food low in fat and learn relaxation skills.For more information on Cardiovascular Health go to <a href="http://au.rd.yahoo.com/health/lsmedicine/SIG=11fqu1soj/**http%3A%2F%2Fwww.lifestylemedicine.net.au%2F" rel="nofollow">www.lifestylemedicine.net.au</a>.