Several causes of coronary heart disease can be studied endlessly....without giving you a real insight about - how to change them!
Heart attack comes usually after years of developing blocks in coronary arteries. Plaque (cholesterol and other bad fats) keeps on developing for many many years. And one day when it can not take any more, it ruptures and causes blood clot in the artery.
Rupture of the plaque!?
Now let us try to understand causes of coronary heart disease, plaque formation and its rupture that becomes the immediate cause of heart attack through an easy example of blowing a balloon.
What happens when you blow in more air in an-already-inflated-balloon? It ruptures. Right? This is exactly what happens to the plaque. Continued buildup of material is like blowing in more air – and plaque ruptures like balloon. And blood is released there and gets clotted.
This blood clot can completely block the blood supply to a part of heart muscle which is damaged and dies by cutting of oxygen-enriched-blood-supply.
So, behind the proximate, apparent cause of heart attack – blood clot from ruptured plaque – there is this plaque with its decade long story.
Let us look deeper ... into causes of coronary heart disease ( synonym coronary artery disease ). Till we get to some place that you can influence!
So, you must be wondering what causes the plaque formation in the first place! Right?
Inner lining of coronary arteries naturally is smooth and soft. And, this smoothness keeps all plaques away. It is only when due to certain reasons - in a minute we will be talking of those - the arteries become hard and their inner lining gets damaged and rough. This hardness of artery with its rough-inner-surface becomes the focus of all future deposition of plaques.
So, as you can see the whole business of plaque formation begins with hardening of arteries and damage to their inner lining. These are the basic underlying causes of coronary heart disease.
Now, to understand this hardening thing, just imagine yourself getting angry and upset about some real issue from your ‘past files’. Vividly imagine and try to magnify the issue as much as you can. Close your eyes and take a minute. Done?
Did you notice some changes in your body as you were vividly ‘imagining’ some long-gone issue? You didn’t? Try it again. This time with a conscious eye on how your breathing changes and your muscles tighten up and probably you feel the anxious beating of the heart.
If you are not one of some alien race, by now, you must have experientially seen that your emotional reactions affect your whole body.
Your shallow breathing, tightening of muscles in your jaw, shoulder, neck and elsewhere, pounding of heart, sweaty palms and reeling head – all can come about by simply reliving your past. Such is the power of body-mind connection! And, you are still wondering about what makes the coronary arteries hard?? Or, you got your answer?
All your emotional responses and reactions affect your whole body. Certain responses create ‘tightening’ of the system. Repeated responses put the system in a kind of a ‘permanent’ tightening everywhere. And those blood tubes in your body, in your heart and elsewhere, become hard and lose their elasticity.
The result? High blood pressure. Heart has to pump blood more powerfully to send it through now-hard-arteries. And, the more powerful jet of the blood, damages the inner lining of the arteries because they can no longer swiftly respond with their natural elastic walls. Imagine the difference in the young agility and senile stiffness. (It is more in the mind than the calendar age.)
Other important cause of this inner lining damage is poisonous effect of carbon mono oxide and other similar gases. Cigarette smoke and city / industrial air pollution is rich source of this acidic villain that burns and damages your coronaries. And, these damaged coronaries become the focus of ‘plaque’ buildup. Just like the scar formation at a wounded place.
But, this ‘plaque’ is not a healthy scar. Healthy scar sheds off once underlying wound is healed. But, this plaque scar is scary. It does not shed off. Rather it acts like a magnet and attracts more and more scarring. Plaque keeps growing. Keeps getting larger and larger. And eventually reaches the critical size where it can not take any more. At this point, it ruptures and creates the emergency.
Now, I can hear you wondering about the nature of this plaque buildup. You are asking – what makes this plaque? Good question!
Cholesterol, triglycerides and certain types of lipo-proteins make this plaque. Addition of calcium makes this plaque even more hard. Harder!
Your liver makes sufficient cholesterol essential for body needs. Extra cholesterol that you gulp in your diet everyday – circulates in the blood. And, it starts getting deposited at the injured rough sites. In your coronaries and elsewhere.
Stress and inactivity increases the production of these dangerous fats in the body. They add up to the plaque size. On the other hand regular physical activity and deep relaxation decrease the cholesterol production. Also, body becomes softer and looses its hardness.