Heart disease symptoms occur when there is a lack of blood flow in the arteries. What exactly is heart disease? The most common form of heart disease in the U.S. is coronary artery disease (CAD). This is a narrowing of the arteries that supply blood to the heart, due to plaque buildup. This plaque accumulation in the blood vessels is known as hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis, which is the most common type of arteriosclerosis (any blockage of the medium and large arteries.) Plaque is comprised of fatty and other substances, including cholesterol and other lipids. Atherosclerosis comes from the Greek athero, meaning gruel or paste, and sclerosis, which means hardness.
If blood supply in the coronary arteries is shut off, then a heart attack results. Cells in the heart begin to die when they do not receive enough oxygen. If a blockage occurs in arteries leading to the brain, a stroke occurs. This lack of blood flow from blockages can occur in many parts of the body, which results in heart disease, heart attack, stroke, peripheral arterial disease (PAD), or possibly a combination of these.
Although sometimes there are no warning signs for heart disease, the following are some of the most common symptoms:
* An uncomfortable pain or feeling of pressure in the center of the chest, known as angina, that lasts for more than a few minutes,
* A burning feeling or indigestion in the chest,
* Pain or discomfort in the shoulders or arms,
* Feeling weak, ligh-headed, or faint,
* Chest discomfort with a tight or choking feeling in the throat,
* Shortness of breath,
* Pain in your neck, back, or jaw,
* Pain between the shoulder blades.
Atherosclerosis – In his book, The Cardiovascular Cure, Dr. John C. Cooke, Head of Vascular Medicine at Stanford Medical School, says hardening of the arteries begins to develop at an early age. Fortunately, this process takes a long time to develop. He says “by the time we are toddlers, the surface of our blood vessels already have small yellowish irregularities.” These fatty streaks are fairly insignificant early on and present no immediate danger. In many cultures, these streaks do not progress beyond this point, however, in cultures with a high consumption of animal fat, overeating, tobacco use, and lack of exercise, this process continues to progress.
Dr. Cooke goes on to say that “by the time we are in our teens and young adulthood, most of us have well-established fibrous plaques in the arteries to our heart, head, and limbs.” Even though these particular plaques do not pose a threat, they are a sign of negative things to come. If an unhealthy lifestyle continues, then full-blown atherosclerosis will develop. When 50 percent of more of an artery is blocked, heart disease symptoms can begin developing.