Ischemic Heart Disease

Ischemic Heart Disease


More than a decade has passed but, the ischemic
heart disease or IHD still remains as the world’s biggest killer. But, what exactly is IHD? Are there ways to prevent it from killing
us? In most cases, it results from the clogging
of the coronary arteries. Your two main coronary arteries, which branch
out around your heart, play a major role in supplying your heart with the oxygen-rich
blood that it needs. Their walls are made up of several layers,
which include the endothelium that prevents blood components from going into the wall,
the subendothelial layer, and the thick layer of smooth muscle cells. Broadly speaking, clogging of a coronary artery,
yours, for example, can be described in 6 stages. Stage 1. Due to several irritants including a high
level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) (a.k.a. bad cholesterol), hypertension, and toxins
from tobacco smoke, your endothelium can get damaged and start malfunctioning. When this happens, your endothelium starts
allowing your blood components to enter the arterial wall. Stage 2. The LDLs, which carry a lot of cholesterol,
start accumulating in the subendothelial layer while being oxidized by your endothelium’s
oxidants. At the same time, your endothelium calls your
immune system for help. Stage 3. Your immune system responds. Your monocytes, which are immune cells, differentiate
into macrophages, and engulf the (oxidized) LDLs. As a result, they become foam cells, which
are cholesterol-filled macrophages, and get stucked in the subendothelial layer. Stage 4. Your smooth muscle cells release extracellular
matrix components, which increase LDL accumulation. Your T cells, which are also immune cells,
go into action. Once activated by your macrophages, they release
cytokines that cause chronic inflammation, which ultimately make the fatty deposits,
called the plaque, to grow bigger. Stage 5. Your foam cells and your endothelium release
growth factors that cause other smooth muscle cells to multiply, migrate, and form a fibrous
cap, which helps your endothelium in separating your plaque from the blood. Stage 6. Over time, your plaque may continue to grow
terribly. It may also rupture and cause blood clot formation. But either way, such serious obstructions
will prevent your heart from getting enough oxygen. And as a result, your physical capabilities
will become limited, or worse, you die. That’s why we need to C.A.R.E. for our hearts. Cut trans fat from your diet because it raises
your LDL levels and lowers your HDL (good cholesterol) levels. Ask your health care provider about your cholesterol
levels, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels. High cholesterol levels, especially LDL levels,
and high blood pressure can damage the endothelium.Also, high blood sugar levels accelerate plaque
development. Resist smoking. Aside from damaging your endothelium, smoking
also increases blood pressure, boosts blood clot formation, and lowers HDL levels. Exercise regularly. This can raise HDL levels and lower LDL levels. Generally, even 30 minutes of vigorous walking
a day is beneficial. But of course, it’s best to ask your healthcare
provider about the right exercise program for you.

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