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Wellness Corner

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February is American Heart Month

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What is cardiovascular disease?

Cardiovascular disease  includes numerous problems, many of which are related to a process called                  atherosclerosis.  Atherosclerosis is a condition that develops when a substance called plaque builds up in the walls of the arteries. This buildup narrows the arteries, making it harder for blood to flow through.  That, in turn, lessens the amount of oxygen and other nutrients reaching the body.  If a blood clot forms, it can block the blood flow. This can cause a heart attack or stroke.

Where plaque develops, and the type of artery affected, varies with each person. Plaque may partially or totally block blood flow through large or medium sized arteries in the heart, brain, pelvis, legs, arms or kidneys. This can trigger various conditions, including:

  • Coronary heart disease
  • Angina
  • Carotid artery disease
  • Peripheral artery disease                                                                   
  • Chronic kidney disease

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Plaque presents a double threat.

Plaque itself can pose a risk. A piece of plaque can break off and be carried by the bloodstream until it gets stuck. And plaque that narrows an artery also allows for the possibility that a blood clot may adhere to the blood vessel’s inner wall.  If either case, the artery can be blocked, cutting off blood flow.  If the blocked artery supplies the heart or brain, a heart attack or stroke occurs.

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Risk factors for atherosclerosis:

  • Unhealthy blood cholesterol levels
  • High Blood pressure
  • Being overweight or obese                                         
  • Smoking  
  • Insulin resistance  
  • Diabetes

 Ways to reduce your risk for atherosclerosis:

  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Stop smoking   
  • Exercise regularly 
  • Maintain a healthy weight    
  • Moderate alcohol consumption

 

For additional information, or to schedule a cholesterol screening with one of the Township nurses contact the  Office of Community Health at (630) 483-5665 or email health@hanover-township.org