Heart Conditions Worth Your Time To Learn About
A little background first: the heart is made of 4 chambers. There are the left and right atria and left and right ventricles. Blood pumps from your body to the right atrium, right ventricle, then to your lungs to get oxygen, then left atrium, left ventricle, then out to the body to oxygenate all the tissues. As you might figure, the left ventricle plays an extremely important role in pumping blood out through the aorta to the whole body through the system of arteries, arterioles, and capillaries. Think of each chamber as a balloon that fills up then empties over and over.
Dilated Cardiomyopathy is a condition where, usually, the left ventricle is dilated to the point that it has trouble squeezing out the blood that it fills with. Common symptoms include not being able to breathe well and leg swelling. This can be caused by various infections, genetics, toxins like alcohol, or other diseases like thyroid disease. There are good medications that can help with preventing the progression of this but someone with dilated cardiomyopathy must be constantly aware of activities that may affect their heart’s ability to pump.
Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy is a condition where, usually, the left ventricle is hypertrophic or thickened to the point that it has trouble filling up with enough blood to pump to the body. Common symptoms also include not being able to breathe well and leg swelling. This can be caused by untreated high blood pressure, abusing hypertrophic performance enhancers like insulin and growth hormone, and genetics. That’s why it’s important that everyone especially bodybuilders get their checkups with their primary care doctors to ensure the safety of the activities they’re participating in if they value their life.
Coronary Artery Disease, or atherosclerosis, is the process by which high bad cholesterol (LDL) can lead to a heart attack and death. This is where the coronary arteries that feed the heart blood and nutrients get damaged with cholesterol and fat buildup called plaques that can block the arteries. If a coronary artery gets completely blocked, the part of the heart that it feeds can die and that’s called a heart attack or myocardial infarction. That’s why maintaining healthy levels of cholesterol and blood fats (lipids) is so important to your health and in preventing heart attacks.
Valvular Heart Disease is where there is damage to one of the ehart valves. I mentioned the chambers above, but the chambers are connected by valves. Between the right atrium and ventricle is the tricuspid valve. Between the right ventricle and the pulmonary trunk is the pulmonic valve. Between the left atrium and ventricle is the mitral valve. Between the left ventricle and aorta is the aortic valve. Most commonly the aortic valve can become stenotic or narrow because of long term untreated high blood pressure. The high pressure of the blood passing through the aortic valve causes it to grow thicker and narrower.
Congestive Heart Failure, ultimately, is when the heart can no longer meet the needs of the target tissues without assistance. There is systolic (can’t squeeze), diastolic (can’t relax), left, and right heart failures. For example, in a left sided systolic heart failure the left ventricle is no longer able to squeeze out the oxygenated blood to the body. In this scenario, blood backs up to the lungs, and without treatment, can lead to death by the lungs filling up with blood, essentially drowning. In a right sided heart failure the blood backs up into the body causing severe swelling in the legs (because of gravity). With proper medication and management, someone can live with congestive heart failure for years, but appropriate and necessary management with fluid and salt restriction and diuretics is crucial in that regard.
More and more nowadays people are putting themselves in harm’s way without knowing the consequences of their actions. My purpose with writing this article is to educate you, the readers, on the possible heart conditions that hundreds of thousands of Americans die from every year.
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