Showing posts with label Heart Health. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Heart Health. Show all posts

How Calcium deposits in Arteries can cause Heart Problems

You must have heard about Cholesterol causing blockage in arteries, but calcium buildup can also cause much severe blockage which can result in heart attack. Calcium buildup in arteries is similar to bone formation, which is hard enough and harder to be penetrated by a stent, which is usually used to remove blockages in arteries. In this article we will try to find more facts about this calcium buildup, its possible causes and its treatment.

99% Calcium in our body is present in the form of our teeth and bones. Calcium is also necessary for normal functioning of muscles, nerves and blood vessels. Remaining 1% calcium remains in blood stream, fluids inside the cells and outside the cells. Calcification (calcium buildup) can occur in any part of body without any increased blood calcium level, so it is harder to predict it. Kidney stones are also a type of calcification that occur in kidneys. Calcium intake in the form of food or dietary supplement (for bone strength) is not linked to calcification in body.

How Calcium Buildup occurs in Arteries

Calcium is main constituent of our bones. Calcium buildup in arteries is similar to bone formation and usually very hard to break or dissolve. Two types of cells are responsible for bone formation and bone elimination. Osteoblasts are bone-producing cells, while Osteoclasts are bone-eliminating cells. These cells are also found in our blood stream in proper balance. Vascular calcifying progenitor cells in our blood have got the potential to become osteoblasts or osteoclasts. If osteoblasts count goes up due to some reason then it becomes a risk factor that hardens our arteries and may lead to formation of calcium deposits in arteries, which can lead to cardio-vascular diseases and heart attack in severe cases.

How Calcium Buildup in Arteries can be reversed ?

Calcium Buildup in Arteries is known as Calcification or Atherosclerosis. However some treatments are available, but majority of scientific community believes that plaque buildup of any kind (either cholesterol or calcium) can't be reversed, but can be prevented. Most of the treatments to remove the buildup are invasive.
Researches are still going on to find which chemicals can help progenitor cells in becoming Osteoclasts (bone-eliminating cells). Sca-1 and PDGFRa are cell surface protein found on these progenitor cells. Some cells contain just Sca-1 protein, while some cells contain both of these proteins. If the cell contain just Sca-1 protein then it it can transform into both osteoblasts or osteoclasts,  while when progenitor cells has got both of these proteins then it becomes only osteoblasts (bone producing cells).
Researchers have also found that when they treat these cells with another protein called PPARy, then only Sca-1expressed cells transformed in Osteoclasts (bone-eliminating cells). This treatment not just cured the symptoms in mouse, but also reversed the condition and cause the softening of arteries which previously hardened due to calcification.

What causes Calcification in body ?

  • If a person goes through surgery, radiation, trauma, infection, injury or a cyst then some fat cells die in the affected region of body. When these fat cells die, they release fatty acids that combine with calcium to form deposits. Arterial calcification can occur if some injury occurs inside the artery or due to some damaged tissues inside the artery.
  • High levels of calcium inside the blood stream can also cause calcification in arteries and other body parts, as after a certain level calcium can't remain dissolved in blood and start to form clots.
  • Hyperparathyroidism: It is a hormonal disorder that causes breakdown of calcium from bones and put that calcium into blood stream.
  • Sometimes tumors and some other medical conditions also cause release of more calcium in blood stream causing calcification.
  • Kidney Failure can also increase blood calcium level
  • More dietary intake of Vitamin D causes more absorption of Calcium from diet, that may also cause increased calcium level in blood.

Risk factors for Calcification in Arteries or Atherosclerosis

  • High blood pressure
  • High levels of sugar in the blood
  • Smoking
  • High levels of cholesterol

Symptoms of Calcification in Body

There is no particular symptom of calcification. But weakness, nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, confusion or drowsiness are sometimes reported by patients. However these symptoms are also caused due to a number of other medical conditions, so they are often ignored.

What reduces Calcification

  • Green Tea, Black Tea and Ginger Tea are considered good for heart health.
  • Regular Exercise also reduces the chances of any type of plaque build up.
  • Smoking damages the  arterial walls, which leads to calcification. So if you quit smoking then it is a major step to save yourself from calcification.
Note: Once your arteries have got plaque built-up, then any medication or lifestyle change is just a minor help. So instead of being in such condition, it is better to prevent such condition. Exercise regularly and eat a balanced diet.

How Bacteria can Clog up our Arteries ? Its not your Diet !

Usually people think that unbalanced diet rich in fat and cholesterol is responsible for heart problems, and blockage in arteries occur only due to increased weight caused by fatty diet or lack of physical activity. But this thinking might not be true any more. Some researchers have found that:
  • A number of people even with high-fit diet and increased weight never develop heart disease.
  • Some people even with correct BMI (Body Mass Index) develop blockage in arteries and heart problems.
  • Sometimes a sudden stress initiates heart attack in a healthy person.
These two factors made medical community think again about any other possible reason of blockages in blood vessels. Some recent researches have found that even some bacteria can clog up arteries.

Bacterial Lipids causing blockages

Researcher at University of Connecticut collected atheroma samples from several patients that were getting treated in hospitals. Atheroma is accumulation of degenerative material in the inner layer of artery wall. The lipids in that atheroma contained chemical signatures that can't come from an animal. Instead that chemical signature belong to a bacteria of Bacteroidetes family. It simply suggests that those bacteria were responsible for clogged up arteries. Researchers used modern mass spectrometers to find that these depositions are actually bacterial lipids. Chemical makeup of human lipids are totally different from them.

Researchers have found that bacterial lipids are considered as a foreign material by the body and in response inflammation is triggered which makes blockage more severe. This fact makes such blockages more severe.

Human body is home for millions of bacteria, as most of them are good for us. Bacteria of Bacteroidetes family usually resides in our mouth and gut. Usually they don't harm us, but occasionally they can cause gum disease. However these bacteria can't enter our blood stream, but the lipids secreted by them can penetrate through cell wall and enters our blood stream. Later it can cause blockages.

Bacteria causing Heart Attack when accompanied with Stress

Previously people used to think that emotional or physical stress can trigger heart attacks, but there was no scientific explanation for that. Recently researchers at Binghamton University in New York found that those bacteria which reside in the plaque-covered arteries can be held responsible for such heart attacks. No doubt that fatty deposits, known as plaques, are the main reason behind heart problems, but the activity done by these bacteria that survive in the plaque-covered arteries is equally important. Researchers believe that stress make some chemical changes in our blood, which make these bacteria also release some enzymes that causes rupturing of the plaque. The ruptured plaque later get stuck in some artery of heart and causes heart attack. This research was published in the journal mBio.
It does not mean that every stress will lead to heart attack. It happens only when arteries are already plaque-covered. Every stress in the life of such person initiates the rupture process, but a sudden stress of high intensity can be a major cause of heart attack. However research is still going on to further investigate this phenomena.

Both of the above researches show us that still we need to know a lot more about our body. Today medical science in advancing at a great pace. Instead of relying completely on it, we should take care of our body by regular workout. A regular workout can save you from heart problems. Prevention is always better than cure.

Reference:
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319967.php
https://www.livescience.com/46465-bacteria-in-arteries-may-be-ticking-time-bombs-researchers-say.html

How to Lower your Resting Heart Rate (RHR)

A lower heart rate while in resting position indicates better health of your heart. Normally people have RHR (Resting Heart Rate) in range of 55 to 100. Those who have a RHR of more than 80 bpm are twice more prone to death from a heart disease, while those with more than 90 bpm are thrice more prone. In our last post we published a calculator to evaluate and compare your heart health by telling us your age, gender and resting heart rate (RHR). Usually athletes have the best heart health and their RHR always remains below 65.

A number of variables affect our heart rate and keep changing it through out the day. Apart from activities like sitting, walking and running, even our mood can change our heart beat count. It can even change while watching TV on a comfortable sofa, just due to emotional and mood related changes in the act being played on screen.

How to Lower your Resting Heart Rate (RHR) ?

Our genes, ageing, stress level, medications and medical conditions play an important role in deciding our RHR. Here we are proving some tips to lower your Resting Heart Rate (RHR).

  • Exercise Regularly: You may choose any exercise that suits you, such as a brisk walk, swim, or bicycle. It is not necessary to workout at a gym. When we exercise our heart beats faster, even for a short time afterwards. But when we do it regularly our resting heart rate starts to decrease.
  • Reduce stress: If you feel that your stress level is high then you may engage yourself in meditation exercises such as yoga or tai chi. These stress-busting techniques have shown a significant impact in lowering the resting heart rate over time.
  • Avoid tobacco: Smoking increases resting heart rates, even the passive smoking. Quitting can easily bring it down. Calculate the damage done by smoking.
  • BMI in check: We can lower our RHR through good lifestyle and maintaining a healthy BMI (body mass index), i.e. height-weight ratio. A BMI value of 19 to 25 is considered best. So Calculate your BMI. Larger body requires more effort from our heart to supply the blood, and losing weight can easily reduce that effort.
  • Take long breaths: This technique can instantly bring your heart beat down. At any point of time, if you feel that your heart is beating badly, then you must take long breaths to lower the heart rate. It is the reason behind practicing breathing exercises to lower the blood pressure.
  • Stay Cool: Except the exercise time, try to keep your body cool. Higher temperature outside make our heart to pump more blood to keep the right body temperature, thus increasing the heart rate. So staying away from heat can lower the RHR.

Note: The best time to measure your RHR (Resting Heart Rate) is just before leaving bed in the morning. You should measure it while still lying on your back.

Heart Rate and its effect on our overall Health


Calculate what your heart rate tell about your overall health by telling us your resting heart rate. Normal resting heart rate of people vary from 60 to 100 beats/minute, but if it remains below 60 (known as bradycardia) or above 100 (known as tachycardia) then it is a medical condition.

Tell us your age, gender and resting heart rate, we will tell you if it is OK or not.

How to know your RHR (Resting heart rate) ?
To know your resting heart rate you should lie down comfortably on your back for a few minutes and take long breathes and calm down your mind. If you can't do it right now, then you must know that heart beats slightly faster while sitting, so you may enter some lesser value. Best way to measure your pulse is by putting your index finger on the wrist area of opposite hand, just below the thumb, and then count it for 1 minute. If you have got a wristband / health band then it can also tell your pulse rate.

Gender:
Age :
Resting Heart Rate :

Heart rate (also known as pulse rate) is something which is strongly connected to our overall health. Your heart rate changes several times in a day depending on your body positions such as resting (lying), walking, sitting, running or during workout. Resting heart rate is generally used to estimate your overall health. Heart rate of a health adult can change suddenly while changing body positions, from resting to standing or from standing to running. But unhealthy and older adults with unhealthy cardiovascular health feel uncomfortable in changing positions suddenly, thus advised by doctors to change positions slowly to keep themselves safe from sudden heart rate change.

How to lower your Resting Heart Rate (RHR) ?

But why do heart rate change while changing positions? 
The answer to this question is dependent on various factors, which are
  • Effect of gravitation on blood flow.
  • Effect of physical activity on blood / oxygen demand by body parts.
  • Posture of thigh
When we keep lying for a few minutes the blood flows back to heart without much effort, compared to standing, where blood flows from legs to heart against the gravitational pull. To create this extra push and pull our heart beats at a higher rate.
Physical activity also creates demand for more oxygen and energy from muscles and cells helping in the activity. That demand is fulfilled through blood supply by increasing heart rate. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients/energy to organs in need. This reason also explains the increased breathing during physical activity.
Posture of our thigh also affects our heart beat. In sitting posture, our thigh is usually parallel to the ground, while in standing posture it is vertical to ground. Thighs parallel to ground decrease the heart beat. Due to this reason, our resting heart rate can increase if we bend our knees while lying on back.

20% Humans have hole in their Heart - Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO)

Foramen Ovale is a medical condition found in most of the newly born babies. In this medical condition there is a hole between the upper chamber of heart (i.e. right and left auricle). It is a common phenomena in babies. But this hole is closed automatically within a few weeks after birth. But one in every five person is not so lucky and his/her Foramen Ovale remain open. This medical condition is called Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO), also known as Atrial septal defect.

What happens to our body due to Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO) ?
Our right auricle contains the deoxygenated blood while left auricle contains the oxygenated blood. The hole between these two chambers of heart mixes the pure blood with impure blood. The same blood is then sent to different body parts and the same mixed blood is sent to lungs to get oxygenated. No major symptoms can be noticed of this medical condition in childhood. But as the person reaches 30's some symptoms become visible. These symptoms are:

Heart Attack Risk Calculator

Age: Years
Country:
Gender:
Weight: kg
Height:
Do you have a family history of hypertension / heart attack / stroke ?



  • Shortness of breath
  • Getting tired soon
  • Swelling in legs anf feet
  • heart palpitations
  • heart murmurs

These symptoms vary from person to person. Symptoms are more clear in people with large PFO hole, while people with small hole might never feel any symptom.
 Note: In very rare cases if a baby have both PFO and some other heart condition then blue tint may appear on skin while crying or passing stool.

Health Risks related to Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO)

  • A person suffering from PFO may live a healthy life, but chances of getting a stroke attack is more compared to a person with no PFO. 
  • In our last article betterhealthfacts.com discussed the effect of Air bubble getting injected into veins, which can cause problem is a person suffering from PFO. 
  • In some researches migraine is found connected to PFO. Those who have got their PFO corrected through surgery reported reduction in migraine.

Why do newly born babies have Foramen Ovale ?
When the arteries and veins develop in a baby inside the womb of her mother it needs blood supply. The hole (Foramen Ovale) provides more blood instantly to the heart to pump into these newly developed arteries. This Foramen Ovale does not cause any harm to baby as at that time lungs of mother are oxygenating the blood for baby. Baby's own lungs don't oxygenate the blood as baby can't breathe in the womb. As the baby is born the Foramen Ovale closes itself within a few weeks.

Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO) Diagnosis
It can be done using ECG (echocardiogram) through a bubble test performed with saline water. The doctor checks it through ECG machine if the bubble passes between two upper chambers of heart.

Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO) Treatment
PFO can be closed through surgery. There are more than 20% chances that you have got a PFO in your heart. But you don't need to go for surgery unless your doctor tell you that your PFO is causing some trouble in your body. What happens in the surgery is visible in the gif image provided here.

Heart Health Calculator | Heart Attack Risk Evaluation

Tell us your age, weight, height, some lifestyle details and we will tell you about the risk factors that might be connected to your blood pressure and heart health. Heart Attack Risk can also be estimated through this calculator. Our heart health is the most important factor that decides our overall health. So if you can follow our recommendations then you may keep your heart healthy and live a long life. So what are you waiting for ! Just enter the details below and know more about your heart health.

Heart Health Calculator


Basic Information

Age: Years
Country:
Gender:
Weight:
Height: or cms
Do you have a family history of hypertension / heart attack / stroke ?

Lifestyle Information

Smoking:
Alcohol:
Workout:
Diabetic:
Diet / Nutrition:
Daily Salt Intake:
Average Daily Sleep:
How often do you feel stressed or angry: