To Your Health: The Heart of Coronary Artery Disease

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Be kind to your heart, you only have one and you cannot live without it.

PHNOM PENH, (Khmer Times) – Coronary artery disease (CAD) is also called coronary heart disease or ischemic heart disease (IHD).
 
CAD develops when your coronary arteries become damaged or diseased. These arteries are very important blood vessels because they supply your heart with blood, oxygen and other important nutrients. 
 
CAD in Cambodia
 
CAD is rapidly increasing in the developing world and according to world health rankings, CAD is the second biggest risk of diseases affecting Cambodians. 
 
How does it develop?
 
Damage occurs when cholesterol deposits – also known as plaque – begin to block some of these arteries near your heart. These deposits then narrow the arteries, so blood supply is  limited. 
 
This is called ischemia and the narrowing of these vessels is also known as atherosclerosis which I discussed recently in my cholesterol article. As the arteries narrow from the buildup of plaque, pain can develop from the lack of oxygen and less blood supply to the heart. This pain is called angina. 
 
Over time ischemia will damage the heart muscles and can cause heart attacks. This will often result in permanent damage to the heart muscles. 
 
Risk factors for CAD
 
1. High blood pressure- hypertension
2. Diabetes
3. High cholesterol
4. Cigarette smoking
5. Diet high in fat and salt
6. Obesity or overweight    
 
Although some factors can be hereditary, it is now thought that a history of CAD is due to the family having the same lifestyle and eating habits, which may not be healthy.
 
What are the symptoms?
 
Chest pain is the most common sign, but there are also other symptoms which are just as important to know.
 
1. Pain or discomfort in the neck, jaw and upper back.
2. Pain or discomfort in the arms and shoulders.
3. Shortness of breath or pressure in the chest area.
4. Feeling faint, weak or constantly tired.
 
Some people can have heart disease without any signs or symptoms, this is called silent ischemia. So if you have a family history of heart disease, it is of vital importance to have regular checkups with your doctor or health clinic.
 
Prevention is the best cure
 
Following a healthy diet and having regular exercise is the first and biggest step you can take to preventing heart disease. Always check with your doctor or clinic before beginning any new exercise or diet.
 
They can assist you in the best way to begin your plan.
 
Healthy eating
 
You are what you eat is an old and very true saying. If part of your plan is to lose weight then you must watch what you eat. Even with exercise, you will not lose weight if you do not follow a healthy eating plan.
 
1. Eat regular small meals. 
2. Maintain a low fat diet and reduce dairy products such as meat butter, cheese and fried foods.
3. Increase your intake of fruit and vegetables.
4. Decrease the amount of salt that you use.
5. Limit your alcohol intake.

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