What is the leading cause of death in the U.S.? Many people would guess cancer, but they would be wrong. The leading cause of death over the past few years has been heart disease. Last year, heart diseases claimed the lives of more than 600,000 Americans. The most common of these is acute myocardial infarction, better known as a heart attack. Each year, about 720,000 Americans suffer from a heart attack. That averages to almost two thousand heart attack cases a day! So why are there so many heart attacks? The answer is simple: by eating unhealthily, not exercising, and smoking, millions of people put themselves at risk of suffering a heart attack.
One of the main causes of a heart attack is an unhealthy diet. Because eating healthily costs more, people turn to cheap fast food instead. This fast food is loaded with cholesterol, an important lipid used in the membranes of cells. However, if a person eats too much cholesterol, the excess begins to build up along the wall of the person’s arteries. This substance, called plaque, inhibits the flow of blood to the heart. Consequentially, the heart has to pump much harder to circulate the blood.
An unhealthy diet also leads to high blood pressure which further increases the build up of plaque and other fatty matter in the arteries. All of this plaque causes decreased blood flow to the heart which makes it weaker. Although the decreased flow of blood can cause heart problems later on, the real danger is the risk that a piece of the plaque could break off, leaving a gap. If this happens, red blood cells form a clot on top of the plaque which could result in the blockage of the entire artery, causing a heart attack. Maintaining a healthy diet is one of the best ways to lower the risk of having a heart attack.
Another factor that increases the risk of having a heart attack is lack of exercise. The heart is a muscle and like any other muscle, it becomes stronger by exercising. Sadly, many people do not and the heart stays weak. It does not pump as well, leading to decreased capability in the future, and numerous health problems. Exercising also prevents clotting in the arteries, therefore lowering the chances of having the arteries blocked. Lazy people
who sit and watch television all day miss out on this benefit, and increase the likelihood of a heart attack. Finally, exercise reduces inflammation in the arteries, optimizing blood flow and reducing the threat of a heart attack. Unfortunately, many people do not take the time to exercise, and they suffer from poor blood flow, inflammation of the arteries, and increased risk of heart problems. By not exercising, people put themselves in danger of suffering a heart attack.
Finally, countless heart attacks are caused by smoking. Surprisingly, about one in every five deaths from heart disease is caused by smoking. Everybody knows that smoking leads to breathing issues and lung cancer, but what most people do not realize is that smoking also puts people at a higher risk of having a heart attack. The 4,000 or more poisonous substances in a cigarette harm blood vessels throughout the body, including the heart. They also increase the likelihood of blood clots in the arteries which cause heart attacks.
Next, smoking causes the arteries to narrow which reduces blood flow further. This means that it does not take as big of a clot to cause a heart attack. Lastly, the carbon monoxide breathed in from smoking replaces the oxygen that would have been breathed in. The carbon monoxide then binds to the red blood cells and is distributed to the body instead of oxygen. This poisons the whole body, including the heart, and makes it have to do more work to supply the body with oxygen. By smoking these lethal substances, people put themselves in the clutches of the leading cause of death in the world.
In a society where the fast-food industry booms, video games replace exercise, and cigarettes litter the streets everywhere, it is not surprising that so many people have heart attacks each year. Many people choose to eat unhealthily, lounge around all day, and smoke, endangering their overall health and putting themselves at risk of a heart attack. However, people always have a choice. Although all these things can cause a heart attack, they are not really the underlying problem. The irresponsible behavior and foolish decisions of people is really behind the leading cause of death in America.