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The heart is an essential organ and hard-working muscle. The heart’s primary function is to pump enough blood to deliver a continuous supply of oxygen and other nutrients throughout the body. Unfortunately, when you stop taking care of your heart, you slowly increase your risk of heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States. 

What is Heart Disease?

Heart disease refers to several types of heart conditions, including coronary heart disease, heart failure, peripheral arterial disease, congenital heart defects, arrhythmia and more. The most common type of heart disease is coronary heart disease, which is the narrowing or blockage of the coronary arteries (major blood vessels that support your heart).

The leading cause of heart disease is the buildup of plaque in the arteries and blood vessels that lead to the heart. Plaque is a “waxy, sticky substance made up of cholesterol, fat, calcium and other matter that is found in the blood,” according to Beaumont. Plaque blocks oxygen and other vital nutrients from reaching your heart, which can lead to heart disease. 

Causes of Heart Disease

Several risk factors may increase the risk of developing heart disease, including:

Obesity

Being obese doesn’t just affect your appearance, it also affects your overall health, including heart health. A study published in April 2018 concluded that “obesity was associated with shorter longevity and significantly increased the risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality compared with normal BMI.” 

Obesity changes your cholesterol levels, causes blood pressure to rise, and can lead to diabetes, all of which contribute to heart disease, according to Penn Medicine. 

High Cholesterol 

Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in the blood that attaches to proteins. The combination of cholesterol and proteins is called a lipoprotein. There are two types of lipoproteins that carry cholesterol to and from cells, including low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). 

LDL cholesterol is considered the “bad” cholesterol because it can collect in the walls of your arteries. When your body has too much LDL cholesterol, it can build up and cause a blockage in blood flow to and from your heart and other essential organs. Insufficient blood flow to the heart can eventually lead to a heart attack. 

High Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is the pressure of blood that pushes against your artery walls. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is when your blood pressure is higher than normal. 

“High blood pressure can damage your arteries by making them less elastic, which decreases the flow of blood and oxygen to your heart and leads to heart disease,” according to the CDC. 

Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic health condition that occurs when your blood glucose, also known as blood sugar, is too high. Over time, high blood sugar can damage the blood vessels and nerves that control the heart. Individuals with diabetes are also more likely to have high blood pressure and high cholesterol, raising the risk for heart disease. 

Contact Advanced Heart and Vein Center

You can count on our team at Advanced Heart and Vein Center to give you the highest quality of care you deserve and a treatment plan tailored to your specific health needs. To request an appointment, call us today at 720-772-8040.

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