You know how important your heart is, so it is no wonder people worry when they hear someone has heart problems. More than 60 million Americans have some form of heart disease. The heart is an amazing organ. Its job is to pump oxygen and nutrient rich blood throughout the body to sustain life. In fact, this fist sized organ beats, or expands and contracts, 100,000 times per day. It pumps five to six quarts of blood each minute or about 2,000 gallons per day. That’s a lot of blood. Blood is essential. It carries fresh oxygen from the lungs and nutrients to the body’s tissues. It also takes the body’s waste products, like carbon dioxide, away from the tissues. (“How the Heart Works”)
The heart is a four chambered, hollow organ about the size of your fist. The atria, make up the top two chambers. They receive blood from the veins. The ventricles make up the two bottom chambers. These chambers pump blood into the arteries. The heart is the center of the cardiovascular system. (“How the Heart Works”)
Heart disease, also known as cardiovascular disease, is a group of problems that occur when the heart and blood vessels are not working the way they should. When the coronary arteries narrow, blood has a hard time reaching the heart. This causes the heart muscle to ache, like any other muscle in the body. If the arties continue to narrow, it puts stress on the heart which provokes symptoms of heart disease. Heart disease is not contagious. You cannot catch it from someone else. There are a lot of factors that increase a person’s chances of getting heart disease. People do not have control over some of these factors like getting older, or having family members who have had the same problems. But they do have control over some of these factors like smoking, having high blood pressure, being overweight, and not exercising. All of these things can increase the risks of getting heart disease. (“How the Heart Works”)
There are many factors that increase a person’s risk of developing heart disease. Some of these factors can be kept under control, while others are uncontrollable.
Uncontrolled risk factors include things like age, sex, family history of heart disease, and race. There are things you cannot help or change. You are going to get older and your body is going to go through changes during that time. Men have a greater risk of heart disease than women do. Even after women go through
menopause, their death rate from heart disease is less than men. If a family member has heart disease, everyone in the family is at risk of also having heart disease. Unfortunately even your race can put you at a higher risk of having heart disease. African Americans, Mexican Americans, and American Indians have a higher risk of heart disease than Caucasians. (“Risk Factors for Heart Disease”)
While some risk factors cannot be changed, it is important to know realize that you do have control of others. By making changes to your lifestyle, you can...