Saturday, May 7, 2011

Heart Disease

The human heart is truly a marvelous piece of evolutionary engineering. It pumps about 1 million barrels of blood during an average lifetime. It pumps blood through more than 60,000 miles of blood vessels – enough to circle the equator twice. However, heart attacks kill some 3 out of every 10 Malaysians who die (Star, 24.6.07).

Heart diseases refer to diseases of the heart and the blood vessel system within the heart, such as:
1) Coronary artery disease (CAD) is caused by atherosclerosis – the buildup of plaques in blood vessels that feed your heart. CAD causes chest pain as the coronary arteries can’t supply enough blood and oxygen to the heart. It also causes heart attacks (in which part of the heart muscle dies due to blockage of the artery).
2) Heart failure (in which the heart is not able to pump blood through the body as well as it should).
3) Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeats).

Aerobic exercises such as walking, jogging, running, swimming and bicycling can help people with heart disease in the following ways:
1) Make the heart stronger, helping it pump more blood and oxygen to the body.
2) prevent, reverse or limit the progression of heart diseases by raising high-density lipoproteins (HDL), reducing levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) which clogs the arteries, increasing insulin sensitivity, burning calories, reducing body fat and lowering blood pressure.
3) Reduce the death rate in heart attack patients by 20-25%.
4) Improve quality of life (such as more self confidence, lower stress and less anxiety).

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