Heart over Burdened

Heart overburdened: As the blood vessels do not relax to receive the blood from the heart, the heart has to work beyond nortnnlcy against this resistance. This strains the heart, nnd it ultivnnt,ely fails to perform its function of pugnping the blood to all parts of the body,

Since hypertengion accelerates the process of hardening nnd narrowing of the blood vessels, the coronary arteriet• get blood and legs oxygen is supplied to the henrt “l”hi8 causers angina. Cerebral arteries also get lent* supply of blood and the result is brain stroke.

Similarly, kidney arteries are unable to carry on purificntion, and waxte products get collected in the blood.

I lypertengion hurries up degeneration of arteries via tnechnnicnl 8t,re88 on endothelial cells at specific high pressure 8ite8 in the arterial tree. In addition, it allows more lipoproteins to be transported through the lining cells of the arteries into their walls by altering their permeability.

Obesity: Till a person attains the age of 25, his body is growing but the process of growth gets stalled thereafter. His metabolism also slows down and he gains weight unless he does not reduce the quantity of food and increases physical activity. A time comes when he requires about 10 less calories everyday for each year that passes, and if he does not cut back by this amount, he will end up gaining weight.


Heart disease and death have a direct relation with the degree of over-weight. Obesity may accelerate atherosclerosis and its effect is more apparent before one reaches the age of 50. The relationship between obesity and atherosclerosis is thus multifaceted, and since, in practice, obesity does not occur ‘independently’, it is one important risk factor.

For people who are over-weight, the increase in death rate is calculated as follows:

Over-weight Increase in death rate

10 per cent 12 per cent

20 per cent 30 per cent

30 per cent 45 per cent


Diabetes: Generally called I)iabeteg Mellitus, it means high level of gugar in blood, that overflows into urine. Usually it is due to deficiency of insulin, a fluid secreted by pancrease.

It is a chronic disease and patients guffering from it cannot absorb carbohydrateg, fats and proteins into the system. Diabetes causcg a lot of complications, an important one being the narrowing of the blood vessels called atherosclerosis. This change occurs at an earlier age in life of those who suffer from diabetes and is more extensive.

Diabetics are more prone to coronary artery disease. Silent myocardial infarction is known to occur in diabetics and should be taken care of whenever symptoms of left ventricular failure appear suddenly. Heart attacks in diabetics occur at a younger age than they do in non-diabetics.

Women who have diabetes are likely to have greater chances of heart attacks. Heart attacks are also common in those people who do not yet have diabetes but their glucose metabolism on laboratory testing is found to be faulty so that they can be labelled as pre-diabetics.

Smoking: Medical science is not very sure how smoking affects the heart. Perhaps the following may be the


Cigarettes have nicotine and perhaps it stimulates the heart. The carbon monoxide eminating from the burning cigarettes is absorbed into the blood and replaces oxygen and thus deprives heart muscles and other tissues. People with angina pectoris develop chest pain quicker even if others smoke in their presence.

Smoke may damage the lining of the coronary arteries, allowing artery-clogging cholesterol to build up and narrow the passage ways.

It has been observed that heart attacks occurring at an age below 40 years and of consequent sudden deaths are also more among heavy smokers than among non. smokers.


Males more affected

Males more affected: Heart attacks occur much more frequently among males than among females. But this difference lessens beyond the age of 60 years in both the sexes.

Why males suffer more attacks than females can be explained by the following facts:

The quantity of food, fats and sugar taken by men is greater than that by women. More men smoke than women. Men are more exposed to the competitive stresses of modern living.

It has also been found that normal young women have a relatively lower serum cholesterol level, lesser amount of low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and a higher concentration of high-density lipoprotein than normal young men. This sex difference disappears after the menopause.

Female sex hormones, the oestrogens, it is suggested, hinder the onset of atherosclerosis by their effect upon the quality and quantity of the fat in their blood.

The incidence and severity of coronary artery atherosclerosis in women, whose both ovaries have been removed (because of some disease), are reported to be greater than in control females and to approximate those in men of the same age group. If, however, such women whose ovaries have been removed are treated with oestrogens, the incidence and severity of coronary heart disease lessens significantly. Conversely, the incidence and severity of atherosclerosis have been reported to be much less in men treated with oestrogens for carcinoma of the prostate than in control series.

Family history

Family history: It is seen that heart attacks have a relation with family history, i.e. the occurrence of heart attacks to several members of a family is a common observation. It has been found that the incidence of heart attacks is nearly four times as frequent among siblings of persons (having common ancestors) with coronary disease as among siblings of persons without it.

High blood pressure (hypertension), cerebral haemorrhage or thrombosis and diabetes appear to occur With more than average frequency in some families.

Laxity: An increased incidence of coronary heart disease has been related to lack of physical exercise and a sedentary occupation. The societies in which econorrnc privilege and physical inactivity go hand In hand, cnronary heart disease tends to be more frequent among sed e entary persons. They are also the people who tend to be obese and to eat more. These findings have been confirmed repeatedly.

But curiously, in India, coronary heart diseases and attacks have been found as common among manual workers as among those who are in sedentary occupations. From this it may be inferred that in a disease with multiple factor etiology, the influence of the factor can be offset by a combination of other factors.

Fast life: Progressive increase in the incidence of heart attacks In more industrialised countries suggests that there IS a relation between the stress one undergoes due to modern competitive, fast-paced, industrialised society and the development of coronary heart disease.

It is also found that those with great ambition, compulsive striving, extreme competitiveness, drive for recognition and preoccupation are found to be more prey to heart attacks. Feeling of security and love or a lack of them also affect the disease process.

How to detect narrowing?

Watch out for the followmg symptoms:

l. Do you feel weakness, numbness, tigling or burning in toes or feet?

  1. Is there a small ulceration of the skin on your an. kle or foot?
  2. Do you feel heaviness or fatigue in the calf after walking a little distance? Does that turn into pain if walk is continued? Does that feeling disappears after you stop walking?
  3. Any white arc in the iris of the eyes or do you develop cataract before age?
  4. Any blurred or darkened vision?
  5. Any breathing trouble?
  6. 7 Any noises in the heart or dizziness. Partial deafness or ringing in ears? Vertigo?
  7. A brief fainting spell?
  8. Loss of mental grip—confusion, loss of memory?

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