A child`s inner lining of the coronary arteries is quite smooth, allowing blood to flow easily. As he ages, the cholesterol and calcium content in the walls of the coronary arteries increases, making them thicker and less elastic.
Unhealthy habits, such as a diet high in cholesterol and other fats, smoking, and lack of exercise hasten the deposit of fat and calcium within the inner lining of coronary arteries.
This process is known as atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. The deposits, or plaques, eventually obstruct the blood vessel, which begins to restrict blood flow and sloww down the blood flow in the body.
Heart Disease And Plaque
Plaque is like a firm shell with a soft inner core containing cholesterol. As blood flows and hits it during each heartbeat, the plaque may crack open and expose its inner cholesterol core. When this happens, it promotes blood clotting. Clots may further reduce blood flow, causing severe pain (angina), or even block it all together.
Heart Disease - Atherosclerotic Heart Disease
(CAD) Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) also known as atherosclerotic heart disease, is the end result of the accumulation of atheromatous plaques within the walls of the coronary arteries, that supply blood to the myocardium, which is the muscle of the heart, with oxygen and nutrients. It is sometimes also called coronary heart disease (CHD), although CAD is the most common cause of CHD, it is not the only one. CAD is the leading cause of death worldwide. The symptoms and signs of coronary artery disease are visible only in the advanced state of the disease in most people. After decades of build up, some of these atheromatous plaques may rupture and start limiting blood flow to the heart muscle. This disease is the most common cause of sudden death.
Here is a video to help you understand better.
Coronary Heart Disease - Video
This is also the most common reason of death in men and women over 20 years of age. According to present trends in the United States, half of healthy 40-year-old males will develop CAD in the future, and one in three healthy 40-year-old women. According to the Guinness Book of Records, Northern Ireland is the country with the most number of CAD. By contrast, the Maasai of Africa have almost no heart disease.
On Set Of Heart Disease
As the degree of coronary artery disease progresses, there may be near-complete obstruction of the lumen of the coronary artery, seriously restricting the flow of oxygen-carrying blood to the myocardium. Individuals with this degree of coronary artery disease usually have suffered from one or more myocardial infarctions which we called heart attacks.
Myocardial Ischemia and Myocardial Infarction
A distinction should be made between myocardial ischemia and myocardial infarction. Ischemia means that the amount of blood supplied to the tissue is inadequate to supply the needs of the tissue. When the myocardium becomes ischemic, it does not function optimally. When large areas of the myocardium becomes ischemic, there can be impairment in the relaxation and contraction of the myocardium. If the blood flow to the tissue is improved, myocardial ischemia can be reversed.
Infarction means that the tissue has undergone irreversible death due to lack of sufficient oxygen-rich blood. A person may develop a rupture of an atheromatous plaque at any stage of the spectrum of coronary artery disease. The acute rupture of a plaque may lead to an acute myocardial infarction which we know as a heart attack.
Coronary Heart Disease (CHD), also called Coronary Artery Disease, (CAD) affects about 14 million men and women in the United States alone.
ow Heart Disease Begins
Disease develops when a combination of fatty material, calcium, and scar tissue (plaque) builds up in the arteries that supply the heart with blood. Through these arteries, called the coronary arteries, the heart muscle (myocardium) gets the oxygen and other nutrients it needs to pump blood. Over time, this is what happens:
1. The plaque often narrows the artery so that the heart does not get enough blood
2. This slowing of blood flow causes chest pain commonly known as angina.
3. If plaque completely blocks blood flow, it may cause a heart attack (myocardial infarction) or a fatal rhythm disturbance (sudden cardiac arrest). It is estimated that the major cause of death and disability by coronary heart disease claims more lives in the United States than the next 7 leading causes of death combined.
Symptoms of a Heart Attack Video
Heart attack - Myocardial Infarction
Heart attacks occur when blood flow to the heart muscle is blocked. The most common cause is fatty deposits called plaque in the coronary arteries, which supply blood and oxygen to the heart. Plaque build-up begins as early as childhood, when fat is deposited in the arteries. As you get older, other substances such as protein, cholesterol, white blood cells and calcium are also deposited contributing to the build-up.
This build up of plaque is called Coronary Artery Disease. If the heart muscle does not get enough blood and oxygen to meet its needs, a person may experience angina, a type of chest pain. If the plaque build-up breaks open, the body tries to fix it by forming a clot. This clot can block the coronary artery and prevent the flow of blood and oxygen to the point that the heart muscle dies, causing a heart attack.