Your heart is the pump for your circulatory system. It is made of muscle and is able to contract in order to pump blood through your body.
Arteries and Veins
The arteries and veins are the roadways through which blood is transported to all parts of your body. Arteries carry oxygen-rich blood from your heart to the rest of your body. Veins return the blood to the heart after the oxygen has been used.
Your body needs oxygen in order to function. When you walk, your leg muscles need increased amounts of oxygen in order to do their work. If the arteries in your lower body are able to carry blood without obstruction to your muscles, then you are able to walk comfortably.
If you have blockages in your leg arteries, or in the arteries leading to the legs, you may not be able to get enough oxygen-rich blood down to your legs. The decrease in oxygen to your legs will often result in claudication.
How do I know if I have heart or circulatory disease?
Some people have symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, irregular heart beats, and others have no symptoms. However, just having a simple blood test to check your cholesterol, or having your blood pressure checked and discussing your health history with a qualified physician will give you the information you need to decide whether or not you need further treatment.
More than 2,500 Americans die each day from heart disease, the nation’s number one killer! Many are struggling to recover from a heart attack, while others at high risk are getting the care they need and making the necessary changes to lower their risks.
What are the risk factors for heart or circulatory disease?
The number of risk factors you have determines your risk of heart disease. Some risk factors can be controlled, and it has been proven that doing so will reduce the chances of heart or circulatory disease developing or worsening.
Risk factors include:
- Family history of heart disease
- High cholesterol
- Gender and age: females 55 years or older or past menopause; males 45 years or older
- High blood pressure
- Low HDL (good) cholesterol
Why should I see a cardiologist?
A cardiologist is a medical doctor who specializes in diseases of the heart. This is a highly specialized field requiring four years of medical school, three years of internal medicine residency, and two-to-four years of cardiology fellowship or training.