What causes heart disease? First we must consider what is heart disease and what we are talking about? We can rule out heart disease that is not preventable or genetic by nature. That includes brugada syndrome, long QT syndrome or Wolff Parkinson's white syndrome. The question of what causes heart disease should be read what causes preventable heart disease? Preventable heart disease includes but not limited to acute coronary syndrome, angina, heart attacks and coronary artery disease.
What causes heart disease, genetically speaking, genes are passed from one or both parents that are altered in such a way that the electrical system of the heart to be disrupted. This electrical disruption causes the heart to beat erratically and not providing the heart organized electrical activity to contract efficiently and causes symptoms of palpitations, dizziness and passing out.
Preventable heart disease is a different beast entirely. In this scenario the person has normal genetics heart wise but over time develops heart disease. What causes heart disease in this scenario has been scrutinized by many scientists for many years, although, they continue to get closer to the truth, the greater picture has been missed. Many theories exist but most theories include the traditional risk factors that can be prevented. Risk factors such as obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes and smoking. These factors point to a more sinister monster lurking in the body. A monster that allows disease to take hold and begin a process that ends with atherosclerosis, which is just the beginning of heart disease.
What causes atherosclerosis? The following theory has been accepted and therefore has become the gold standard. Damage occurs to delicate lining of blood vessels, mainly arteries, and causes white blood cells to stick to the walls allowing a clot to form and build up of cholesterol which then hardens into a plaque. The plaque that is now formed builds up over time and reduces blood flow and causes lack of oxygen and nutrients to be delivered to the cells. Depending on the location of the plaque will develop different symptoms, if it is in the heart a reduced blood flow will mean angina symptoms, total blockage will mean heart attack. If it is in the lung difficulty breathing, if it is in the leg someone may experience redness and swelling and pain when ever walking. Pieces of the plaque could also break off in one area and travel to another area, like in the brain causing stroke symptoms. It doesn't mean that someone with risk factors like hypertension will develop heart disease the studies show that it is more likely to develop in someone with it, as opposed to someone that has normal blood pressure. Likewise with high cholesterol and smoking. In a crowd of people I can see who is more likely to develop a heart attack just based on their body type. Someone that is obese that the fat is deposited around the abdominal area is at high risk for heart disease. That type of person is more likely to have metabolic syndrome; that is insulin resistance, high cholesterol, high triglycerides and couple that with smoking and alcohol consumption equates to a walking time bomb.