Women & Heart Disease
A Heart at RiskHow does your heart become unhealthy? High blood pressure, elevated cholesterol or smoking can damage the inner lining of the coronary arteries, as well as all the arteries in the body. This leads to a build up of fatty substances and calcium called plaque. This may slow the flow of blood to the heart muscle and begin coronary artery disease. If this buildup continues, blood flow to the heart muscle is severely decreased, and less oxygen is brought to the heart. This lack of oxygen to the heart muscle may cause a range of sensations called angina: burning, numbness, pressure to severe pain in the chest, arms, jaw, throat or upper back.
A heart attack (myocardial infarction) may occur if the blood flow is completely blocked by a blood clot in the narrowed artery. Without blood flow carrying oxygen, the heart muscle in the area becomes permanently damaged. This damaged area of myocardium is unable to contribute to the pumping action and the output of the heart is decreased.
Five Ways You Can Embrace Your Heart