How Blocked Coronary Arteries Suffocate the Heart - dummies

How Blocked Coronary Arteries Suffocate the Heart

By Steve Glass, Brian Hatzel, Rick Albrecht

Because all blood to the heart comes by way of the coronary arteries, any problem with the arteries can greatly affect the heart. Artery walls can be damaged. Just as a cut or scrape on your finger can leave a scar, an “injury” to your arteries can leave scars. The big difference is that, when the artery wall heals, the scar left behind forms a bump on the inside of the artery. This bump narrows the path through which blood flows.

Artery wall damage (known as atherosclerosis) slows or even blocks blood supply to the heart muscle. If a blood clot travels along and gets stuck in a narrow artery, all blood supply downstream stops, and heart cells begin to die within minutes. The common name for such an occurrence is heart attack, but the more accurate term is myocardial infarction. Dead heart cells can kill the heart as a pump, and that may kill you!

Health and fitness professionals — many of whom are in kinesiology fields — work hard to help clients reduce the risk of an infarction by eliminating the big contributors to artery narrowing:

  • High blood pressure

  • Smoking and tobacco use

  • High cholesterol

  • Physical inactivity

  • Diabetes

  • Obesity