How Does Diseases Affect Blood Flow?

How Does Diseases Affect Blood Flow?

Irrespective of the family, city or state that we belong to, each of our childhoods will have one thing in common- the mother or a caregiver sitting by the bedside in case of illness, and once we would recover, giving us fruits like pomegranate, adding vegetables like beetroot to our diet so that we gain strength and get back on our feet, stronger than before. A tried and tested remedy of every mother’s kitchen has always been including foods rich in iron in the child’s diet. And why is that? The simple reason being, “Illness causes reduced blood flow to the heart. Eating well can increase blood flow in the body, keep the body free from blood circulation problems and keep diseases away.” 

Blood is what makes us, gives us life and ensures we stay healthy. Proper blood circulation is essential for a life free from illness and ailments.  Blood circulation in the body is taken care of by the cardiovascular system, or vascular system. It does the job of circulating blood produced in the body to various organs to keep them functioning. It performs the above function by the network of three essentials:

  • The heart
  • The blood
  • The blood vessels (the arteries and the veins)

After the blood is produced in the heart, the arteries carry the oxygenated blood away from the heart to various organs in the body so that they get required oxygen and other vital nutrients from the blood. This same blood is returned back to the heart when it becomes sparse with oxygen and free from any nutrients by the veins.

The human body carries out the circulation of blood very effectively however there are cases when a blood circulation problem arises and the circulation of blood is hampered in the body. This might happen due to various blood circulation disease or diseases in the circulatory system, which are:

1. Atherosclerosis

This disease refers to the condition of hardening of arteries in the body. It may happen due to an unhealthy diet that leaves a coating of fatty deposits on the artery walls leading to the arteries becoming harder and less flexible. This might lead to blood pressure problems, which, if untreated might even lead to strokes.

2. Myocardial infarction

This disease one we all may have heard of. In simple terms, this means ‘heart attack’. This happens when the coronary blood flow, or circulation of blood to the heart muscles is either completely or partially stopped, which can be identified by a sharp pain in the chest, neck, shoulders etc extending to the jaw. In other words, reduced blood flow to the heart refers to heart attack.

3. Mitral wall prolapse 

The mitral wall is the wall that separates the arteries and veins so that the oxygenated and the deoxygenated blood does not mix. In case it does not close evenly it bulges, leading to a prolapse, hampering blood flow.

4. Mitral wall regurgitation

This happens in case the mitral wall does not close properly which leads to the deoxygenated and the oxygenated blood mixing together.

5. Mitral stenosis

This is a condition where the mitral wall is too narrow to allow for a smooth blood flow causing blood circulation problem.

6. Angina pectoris

In simple words, this means ‘pain in the chest’. This happens when there is low supply of blood to the heart and is characterized by a sharp pain in the chest area. In this case, people might also feel breathless and fatigued.

7. Arrhythmia/dysrhythmia

this is a condition where there is absence or lack in synchronization of the rhythm of the heartbeat, where ‘no rhythm’ means the former and irregular rhythm is the latter.

8. Cardiac ischemia

This refers to a condition where there is improper supply of oxygen to the heart. It might cause chest pain and feel like a heart attack.

9. Heart failure

Believe it or not, heart failure is different from heart attack. It means when the coronary blood flow is imbalanced. in other words, a person’s heart isn’t pumping out blood as efficiently as it should which might cause breathlessness, coughing and fatigue.

10. High cholesterol

It is a condition everyone must be aware of. It is a condition where a thick layer deposits on the blood vessels hampering the blood flow.

11. Hypertension

High blood pressure or hypertension is a common condition these days which refers to the blood pressure inside the vessels being very high. It may lead to stroke, heart failure or heart attack.

12. Stroke

it happens when the vessels leading to the brain either are blocked by a blood clot or burst, hampering the blood supply to the brain.

13. Peripheral artery disease (PAD)

When the arteries leading to the limbs of the body and the heart are narrowed this hampers the blood flow and can damage tissues of the legs, stomach, hands and head. 

14. Venous thromboembolism

A serious medical condition needing emergency medical intervention, this refers to a blood clot blocking the blood flow in the vessels.

15. Aortic aneurysms

This is a serious condition that weakens the main artery in the body due to which it swells up and could burst if untreated.

Any disease has some signs and symptoms. In case the body is dealing with a blood circulation problem, the body sends signals in many ways to the brain so that the disease is detected well in time and is treated accordingly.

The various signs and symptoms in case of an irregular blood circulation are:

Cramps in the muscles Numbing or a tingling sensation of hands and feet Hands and feet turning cold Memory loss or trouble recalling things Lack of concentration Delay in healing of cuts and wounds Varicose veins or swollen veins in the body that appear bluish or purple and are bulging. Chronic Exhaustion Collection and retention of fluid in various parts of the body or Edema

There also exists a disease called “Raynaud’s disease” which features the spasm of the arteries that supply the fingers or toes.  It is usually caused by cold and relieved by heat. This happens due to abnormal blood circulation.  It is characterized by sudden involuntary movements of arteries causing instances where the blood flow is reduced drastically in certain parts of the body, mostly in hands and feet. This condition is triggered in cold weather, which leads to the affected parts of the body turning white and numb. There is numbness and burning of the fingers and severe pain, particularly in the rewarming phase. It has two subcategories:

Primary Raynaud’s disease: it is very common and comparatively mild. It occurs to people with no other medical conditions that could cause Raynaud’s.  Secondary Raynaud’s disease: a comparatively serious disorder, which is triggered by underlying medical issues, usually connective tissue diseases. 

It can get really frustrating to have Raynaud’s disease; however there are few precautions one may take to help avoid this, namely:

Warming up, avoiding cold environments, wearing layers of clothing to avoid cold as cold weather triggers Raynaud’s. Relaxing and keeping calm helps as Raynaud’s could get triggered by stress Preventing ulcers, as they take a longer time to heal and can be excessively painful Healthy diet helps, especially warm foods like ginger, garlic, primrose oil, ginkgo biloba, fish oils etc. Quitting smoking, as it hampers with the blood flow Gentle exercise to help regulate blood flow to avoid any blood circulation problem.

There are a few things that one may keep in mind to help regulate the circulation of blood namely:

Staying hydrated, as blood is mostly water. Intake of fluids is highly essential. While on a desk job, standing up at regular intervals, walking around if possible helps resolve any blood circulation problem. Relaxing and exercising ensure that the circulation is proper Wearing support stockings which help squeeze the legs so that the blood flow is maintained Incorporating lots of fruits and fiber in the diet A massage really helps increase the blood flow in the body by helping move blood smoothly in the whole body. A warm bath helps arteries and veins widen, helping to ease blood flow Sipping on warm beverages or green tea helps increase metabolism too and increase the blood flow.

A few tips and tricks really work wonders for any blood circulation problem to resolve and keep the health of all organs in check while correcting the reduced blood flow to the heart. This in turn would also help to keep the immune system strong and to fight any blood circulation diseases or illness, ensuring there is an increase in blood flow while maintaining the proper functioning of the mind.

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