What to know about cardiovascular disease?
The cardiovascular, or circulatory, system supplies the body with blood. It consists of the heart, arteries, veins, and capillaries.
CVD is now the most common cause of death worldwide. However, there are many ways to reduce the risk of developing these conditions. There are also many treatment options available if do they occur.
The treatment, symptoms, and prevention of the conditions that are part of CVD often overlap.
CVD comprises many different types of condition. Some of these might develop at the same time or lead to other conditions or diseases within the group.
Diseases and conditions that affect the heart include:
- angina, a type of chest pain that occurs due to decreased blood flow into the heart
- arrhythmia, or an irregular heartbeat or heart rhythm
- congenital heart disease, in which a problem with heart function or structure is present from birth
- coronary artery disease, which affects the arteries that feed the heart muscle
- heart attack, or a sudden blockage to the heart’s blood flow and oxygen supply
- heart failure, wherein the heart cannot contract or relax normally
- dilated cardiomyopathy, a type of heart failure, in which the heart gets larger and cannot pump blood efficiently
- hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, in which the heart muscle walls thicken and problems with relaxation of the muscle, blood flow, and electrical instability develop
- mitral regurgitation, in which blood leaks back through the mitral valve of the heart during contractions
- mitral valve prolapse, in which part of the mitral valve bulges into the left atrium of the heart while it contracts, causing mitral regurgitation
- pulmonary stenosis, in which a narrowing of the pulmonary artery reduces blood flow from the right ventricle (pumping chamber to the lungs) to the pulmonary artery (blood vessel that carries deoxygenated blood to the lungs)
- aortic stenosis, a narrowing of the heart valve that can cause blockage to blood flow leaving the heart
- atrial fibrillation, an irregular rhythm that can increase the risk of stroke
- rheumatic heart disease, a complication of strep throat that causes inflammation in the heart and which can affect the function of heart valves
- radiation heart disease, wherein radiation to the chest can lead to damage to the heart valves and blood vessels
Vascular diseases affect the arteries, veins, or capillaries throughout the body and around the heart.
- peripheral artery disease, which causes arteries to become narrow and reduces blood flow to the limbs
- aneurysm, a bulge or enlargement in an artery that can rupture and bleed
- atherosclerosis, in which plaque forms along the walls of blood vessels, narrowing them and restricting the flow of oxygen rich blood
- renal artery disease, which affects the flow of blood to and from the kidneys and can lead to high blood pressure
- Raynaud’s disease, which causes arteries to spasm and temporarily restrict blood flow
- peripheral venous disease, or general damage in the veins that transport blood from the feet and arms back to the heart, which causes leg swelling and varicose veins
- ischemic stroke, in which a blood clot moves to the brain and causes damage
- venous blood clots, which can break loose and become dangerous if they travel to the pulmonary artery
- blood clotting disorders, in which blood clots form too quickly or not quickly enough and lead to excessive bleeding or clotting
- Buerger’s disease, which leads to blood clots and inflammation, often in the legs, and which may result in gangrene
It is possible to manage some health conditions within CVD by making lifestyle changes, but some conditions may be life threatening and require emergency surgery.
Symptoms of Heart Disease
Symptoms will vary depending on the specific condition. Some conditions, such as type 2 diabetes or hypertension, may initially cause no symptoms at all. However, typical symptoms of an underlying cardiovascular issue include: pain or pressure in the chest, which may indicate angina pain or discomfort in the arms, left shoulder, elbows, jaw, or back shortness of breath nausea and fatigue lightheadedness or dizziness cold sweats Although these are the most common ones, CVD can cause symptoms anywhere in the body.
Causes of Heart Disease
People with one cardiovascular risk factor often have more. For example, obesity is a risk factor for high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes. A person may have all four conditions at the same time.
Treatment for Heart Disease
The treatment option that is best for a person will depend on their specific type of CVD. However, some options include: medication, such as to reduce low density lipoprotein cholesterol, improve blood flow, or regulate heart rhythm surgery, such as coronary artery bypass grafting or valve repair or replacement surgery cardiac rehabilitation, including exercise prescriptions and lifestyle counseling Treatment aims to: relieve symptoms reduce the risk of the condition or disease recurring or getting worse prevent complications, such as hospital admission, heart failure, stroke, heart attack, or death Depending on the condition, a healthcare provider may also seek to stabilize heart rhythms, reduce blockages, and relax the arteries to enable a better flow of blood.
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