How Does One Get Heart Disease?

  1. Atherosclerosis/Arteriosclerosis

    • Atherosclerosis and arteriosclerosis are both conditions that can contribute to heart disease. Atherosclerosis occurs when plaque from consumed fats attaches itself to the linings of the arteries. Over time, atherosclerosis can develop into arteriosclerosis. Arteriosclerosis occurs when the plaque has built up so much in the arteries that it restricts the blood flow, creating an increase in blood pressure. The increase in blood pressure puts stress on the walls of the arteries, damaging them and causing them to become stiff and thick.

    Diet and Exercise

    • Lack of exercise and an improper diet and can contribute to heart disease and result in obesity. According to the American Heart Association, obesity is a major risk for heart disease due to its ability to raise blood pressure (resulting in arteriosclerosis) as well as contributing to diabetes. Diabetes is a common cause of heart disease. In fact, according to the American Diabetes Association, two out of three people with diabetes die from either heart disease or stroke.

    Substance Abuse

    • Substance abuse can also contribute to heart disease. Alcohol, smoking cigarettes and illicit drug use all can affect the circulatory system's ability to work properly. They do so by increasing blood pressure and introducing harmful chemicals to the tissues of the heart and lungs. Additionally, stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine can increase your heart rate (tachycardia) which also increases the risks of heart disease.

    Stress

    • Stress can cause heart disease both directly and indirectly. Stress directly affects heart disease by increasing your blood pressure. Indirectly stress can cause you to overeat or stop exercising, leading to obesity. Those who deal with stress are also more likely to start smoking.

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