Heart disease is used to describe a wide variety of diseases of the heart and blood vessels. One of the most common types of heart disease is a coronary artery disease. This is a condition that can cause reduced blood flow to the heart and can lead to a heart attack. Other heart diseases include abnormal heart rhythms, heart valve problems, congenital heart defects and heart failure, among others.
Heart failure means that the heart's pumping power is weaker than normal. With heart failure, blood moves through the heart and body at a slower rate, and pressure in the heart increases. As a result, the heart cannot pump enough oxygen and nutrients to meet the body's needs. The chambers of the heart may respond by stretching to hold more blood to pump through the body or by becoming stiff and thickened. This helps to keep the blood moving, but the heart muscle walls may eventually weaken and become unable to pump as efficiently. As a result, fluid may be retained in the arms, legs, ankles, feet, lungs or other organs.
COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary disease (COPD) describes a disorder that makes it difficult to empty air out of the lungs. COPD maily involves two diseases - chronic bronchitis and emphysema. It is primarily caused by cigarette smoke, although air pollutants, environmental factors and genetics also play a role.
Emphysema is a form of chronic lung disease and is one of several diseases known as COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. With emphysema, the linings of the air sacs in the lungs become damaged beyond repair. The changes in the lungs happen very slowly over the years and lead to air trapping in the spaces of the damaged lung tissue. This reduces the amount of oxygen that reaches your blood stream, causing shortness of breath. In the vast majority of people, smoking is the cause of emphysema. Treatment can slow the progression of the disease, but it can’t reverse the damage. Exercise has many benefits with those who have emphysema including decreasing symptoms and improving breathing. Also exercise can improve energy levels, strengthen the heart and help you feel more relaxed.
Chronic bronchitis is a condition that causes inflammation and swelling of the lining of the airways, or bronchial tubes, which leads to less airflow to and from the lungs. In addition, excess mucus production occurs, which results in a productive cough. People with chronic bronchitis have a mucus-producing cough most days of the month that lasts for at least 3 months, two years in a row. After a long period of inflammation, the lining of the airways become thickened, air flow may be hampered, and the lungs become scarred. Cigarette smoking and breathing in fumes and dusts over a long period of time can cause chronic bronchitis. Regular exercise can improve airway function and allow for greater mobility, allowing those with chronic bronchitis to live healthier lives.
Asthma is a common chronic lung disease that affects the airways that carry air to and from your lungs. With this disease, the airways narrow and swell and produce extra mucus. Wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath and chest tightness are the most common symptoms in asthmatics. The disease is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. For some, asthma is a minor nuisance while for others, it can be life threatening. Fortunately, the knowledge and treatment that is available today is able to help people live normal, active lives. For most people with asthma, exercise can be very beneficial in reducing stress, feeling more energized and even improving asthma control.
Obesity is a significant health problem affecting nearly one-third of all adults in the United States. It is a medical condition where excess body fat accumulates because of an excess amount of calories that are consumed and are not used, which leads to weight gain. Decreased physical activity and genetic susceptibility increase your risk. Research shows that obesity can have a negative impact on your health, causing increased health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some forms of cancer. Fortunately, making improvements in your diet, increasing exercise and changing some of your behaviors can help you lose weight and prevent many of the health problems associated with obesity.
Deconditioning is the change in the body systems brought about by decreased physical activity. The saying, “use it or lose it,” may best describe what is happening when the body becomes deconditioned. When muscles aren’t used, they begin to lose strength which can affect the ability to perform daily activities. Deconditioning can sometimes occur during and after an acute illness or it may occur over an extended period of time. Prevention and treatment of deconditioning is very important, especially in older adults. Regular physical activity, avoidance of a sedentary lifestyle and a healthy diet are key to maintaining muscle mass which can increase quality of life and improve health.