In the normal adult, the heart
pumps 5 liters of blood, which is recirculated continuously through the body. The blood moves from the heart into tubes called arteries, then into tiny
tubes called capillaries & finally into the veins that lead back to the heart.
The entire cycle only takes
about 60 seconds.
In that 60 seconds the blood brings nourishment
& oxygen to all the body's cells in the tissues, organs, muscles & bones.
Major Risk Factors
Reducing Your Risk Factors
What's A Risk Factor?
A risk factor is a
specific condition or behavior associated with the development of heart & blood vessel disease. The more risk factors,
the greater chance you have of developing heart disease. Therefore, reducing these risk factors is the key to a healthier
What Are The Risk Factors?
There are risk factors that can' be controlled or changed & there
are risk factors that can be controlled or changed.
Proven methods to cut your heart attack risk Forget latest quick fixes & go for tried & true measures, experts say
By Allison Van Dusen
Sure, many of us can't resist glazed doughnuts & french fries & don't remember what the inside of a
gym looks like. And yes, we're constantly stressed out about work & could stand to lose 10 pounds.
But a heart attack? They happen to other people - not you.
Even if the worst should occur, doctors can use drugs to decrease the damage to your heart, or perform angioplasty
or bypass surgery to fix the problem. Right?
Not always. Up to 25% of people who die of sudden cardiac death had no prior symptoms or warnings such as
"You can't just rely on the thought that, 'Oh, well, if I have a heart attack the doctors will be there to save me & put me on medications,'" says Dr. Erin Michos, a cardiology fellow at Johns Hopkins
Medicine. "Some people don't make it to the hospital. They die at home. Prevention needs to begin
early in life."
Heart attacks strike when one or more of the heart's arteries are blocked, severely reducing or stopping blood from reaching part of the
heart muscle. They're usually preceded by the buildup inside the artery walls of fatty deposits or plaque, which can rupture,
causing a blood clot to form & block the artery. When the blood supply is cut off for more than a few minutes it can be
Coronary heart disease remains the nation's single leading cause of death & it's estimated that 1.2 million Americans will have a first or recurrent
coronary attack this year, killing 452,000 of them, according to the American Heart Association.
If those statistics sound frightening, take heart.
doctors, nutritionists & other experts say you have the power to cut your risk of having a heart attack.
Instead of looking
for the latest quick fix, however, focus your preventive efforts on what's already been proven.
For starters, that means changing your diet. But, as registered dietitian & American Heart Association spokeswoman Ronni Litz Julien points out, today there are
lots more do's than don'ts.
She tells clients to get a tablespoon of olive oil a day, either with sautéed vegetables or a salad & to
frequently eat low-mercury fish, which is high in omega-3 fatty acids & can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
A few eggs a week are no longer forbidden. Neither is meat, if you're eating lean, 4-oz to 6-oz cuts. The same
goes for nuts, such as walnuts, almonds, cashews & peanuts, as long as you're not demolishing a Costco-size container
in 2 days.
Here's a more complex description of the blood's journey through
the body: The blood moves from the left atrium to the left ventricle through the mitral valve. As the left ventricle contracts,
it pushes open the aortic valve and the blood is carried into the aorta, which distributes it to all other body organs including
the heart by way of the coronary arteries. These arteries wind around the heart to keep the heart muscle supplied with oxygen
and nutrients for its continuous pumping job.
As wastes are produced, they are delivered through the blood
to the right atrium through the vena cava. The accumulated blood pushes open the tricuspid valve, allowing the blood to pass
from the right atrium to the right ventricle. After the chamber fills, the heart contracts and the pulmonary valve opens.
Blood then flows from the right ventricle into the pulmonary artery.
The pulmonary artery, which has two branches, carries blood
to the right and left lungs. From the lungs, the capillary vessels carry the blood along the lungs' tiny air sacs. As the
lungs breathe, carbon dioxide is passed from the body and oxygen is taken in. As this transfer occurs, the blood changes from
purple or dark red to bright red.
After passing through the lungs, the blood is brought by the
pulmonary veins into the left atrium. From there, the blood starts its course through the left ventricle and aorta again.