the links below to learn more about the leading risk factors and
Cigarette Smoking and Tobacco Smoke
Attack Warning Signs
Many of the risk factors for heart attack and stroke tend to speed
the rate of atherosclerosis development. It is extremely important
to work with your doctor to control as many of these risk factors
as possible. If you control and/or eliminate risk factors you may
be able to slow down or reverse the progression of heart disease.
You may also prevent a heart attack or stroke.
All-cause Mortality – death
for any reason (not necessarily heart-related)
All-cause Hospitalization –
hospitalization for any reason (not necessarily heart-related)
Atherosclerosis - a complex disease
process in which cholesterol and other substances build up in the
inner lining of the artery walls. When this build-up (referred to
as plaque) begins to narrow the artery, the blood supply to the
heart is reduced.
Angina Pectoris – chest
pain that is caused when atherosclerosis narrows the arteries to
a certain point.
Atrial Fibrillation – the
rapid, uncoordinated beating of the heart’s upper chambers.
For an animated illustration click here.
Ventricular Fibrillation –
the rapid, uncoordinated beating of the heart’s lower chambers
Cardiac Arrest also known as “Sudden
Death” – the failure of the ventricles of the
heart to contract (usually caused by ventricular fibrillation) with
consequent absence of the heartbeat leading to lack of oxygen and
eventually to death.
Ejection Fraction – the
measurement of the blood pumped out of the ventricles.
Heart Attack – when a portion
of the heart muscles dies from lack of oxygen caused by a completely
blocked artery. A heart attack and a cardiac arrest are not the
same thing. A heart attack has to do with the heart’s “plumbing,”
the arteries get stopped up. A cardiac arrest has to do with the
heart’s “wiring,” which means that something is
wrong with the electrical impulses that cause the heart to contract.
Heart Failure – This is
a common medical condition that affects over five million Americans
today. Heart failure does not mean that the heart suddenly stops
working. Instead, it occurs gradually over time and begins when
the heart is weakened for some reason. Sometimes the cause of heart
failure is unknown. When the heart muscle is weakened, it must work
harder to keep blood flowing through the body. To compensate for
the additional stress, the heart muscle becomes enlarged. This enlargement
can cause disorganized contractions which prevent the heart from
pumping properly. As a result, the body does not get all of the
oxygenated blood it needs in order to function.
HDL Cholesterol – also
known as “good” cholesterol – “high-density
lipoprotein cholesterol” lowers the risk of heart disease
and heart attack.
LDL Cholesterol – also
known as “bad” cholesterol – “low-density
lipoprotein cholesterol” is deposited in artery walls, increasing
the buildup of plaque. High levels of LDL cholesterol raise the
risk of heart disease and heart attack.
Left Ventricular Dysfunction –
A condition in which the left ventricle of the heart does not work
as efficiently as it should. This decreased function could lead
to congestive heart failure or myocardial infarction (heart attack),
among other cardiovascular diseases. Diagnostic measurements that
indicate this condition include a diminished ejection fraction and
a depressed level of motility of the left ventricular wall (the
left side of the heart becomes enlarged and does not work as efficiently).
Triglyceride – the most
common type of fat in the body. Scientists do not agree that it
is a risk factor for heart disease by itself, but combined with
low HDL or high LDL cholesterol it appears to speed up atherosclerosis.
It also increases the risk of diabetes.