Cardiovascular diseases – Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE

Cardiovascular diseases (CDCs) can affect the heart and the blood vessels present in the body. Cardiovascular disease or heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in many countries.

Heart diseases will not discriminate and can cause death if not treated properly.

This health condition usually occurs when there is a buildup of fat deposits in the arteries, causing an increase in the chances of developing blood clots.

Heart diseases are of various types that include heart or blood-related problems like,

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  • The abnormal rhythm of heart valve
  • Thinning of blood vessels in the heart or
  • Blood vessel problems leading to other heart conditions.

The various cardiovascular diseases or as follows

Heart arrhythmia

Heart arrhythmia is a problem with the electrical conduction system of the heart that can lead to irregular or abnormal heart rhythm.

Valve diseases

Valves are the structures that regulate blood flow from one chamber to the other in the heart. When there is a problem with the valves, it can lead to a cardiovascular health condition. The valves narrow or start to leak, causing health problems.

Coronary artery diseases

Coronary artery disease is a health condition that arises in the blood vessels of the heart that has blockages.

Peripheral artery disease

Peripheral artery disease is a health condition when there is a problem with the blood vessels present in the arms, legs or abdominal organs getting thinner or having blockages.

Heart failure

Heart failure occurs when there is a problem with the pumping of the heart that can lead to fluid buildup and breathlessness.

Congenital heart disease

Congenital heart diseases are problems that a person has during birth that can affect various parts of the heart.

These are the most common types of heart diseases that can affect men, women children and old people without discrimination and can be fatal if not addressed properly.

What are the causes of heart diseases?

Cardiovascular diseases can arise depending on various factors. We need to be very clear on the fact that cardiovascular diseases are a collection of various diseases or health conditions that can cause heart problems.

Each type of heart disease is caused by a factor that is unique to that condition.

Some of the causes of heart diseases are as follows. Various factors like

Congenital heart defects can arise when the baby is still developing in the womb.

Some of these health conditions can be serious and must be diagnosed and treated as early as possible. At times, the symptoms may not be exhibited for many years.

Most cardiovascular diseases are caused by unhealthy lifestyle practices.

How to identify a cardiovascular disease?

When a person has a health condition, it will make them exhibit certain symptoms. The symptoms of heart disease can vary depending on the cause.

Symptoms of arrhythmia include

  • Pounding heart
  • Chest pain
  • Lightheadedness
  • Breathlessness and
  • Excessive sweating

When there is a problem with the heart valve, the symptoms may include

  • Tiredness
  • Chest pain
  • Heart murmurs
  • Dizziness and
  • Breathlessness

When the heart is unable to pump blood efficiently, the body may exhibit

Swelling, specifically in the lower body. Exhaustion and breathlessness is also a common symptom of poor blood circulation.

Congenital heart diseases have symptoms like

  • Heart murmurs
  • Shortness of breath and
  • Excessive tiredness

When there are problems with the heart lining, the body may exhibit symptoms like

  • Chest pain
  • Deep breathing
  • Excessive tiredness
  • Swelling and
  • Difficulty in breathing

It is also important to understand that women or elderly people can have symptoms that are exhibited in a subtle manner, yet they may have a major cardiovascular health condition.

A specific disease called rheumatic heart disease is a condition where the heart valves are damaged permanently.

In such conditions, a person may exhibit symptoms like

  • Fever
  • Swelling of joints
  • Stomach cramps
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea and
  • Excessive body pain.

Such health conditions require immediate medical attention.

How are heart diseases diagnosed?

A doctor can prescribe various tests and make evaluations to diagnose cardiovascular disease.

Some of the diagnostic tools or methods used by a health care provider are as follows.

Blood test and physical examination

The primary examination a doctor will do is a physical examination to take account of the various symptoms a person has been experiencing.

Genetics plays an important role in cardiovascular diseases therefore, blood tests are prescribed to help a doctor diagnose cholesterol levels and look for signs of inflammation in the body.

Electrocardiogram

With the help of an electrocardiogram, a doctor will be able to record the electrical activity in the heart.

Echocardiogram

An echocardiogram is a test that is used to create an image of the heartbeat and the blood flow with the help of sound waves. With the help of this test, a healthcare provider can understand a problem with the blood flow.

Cardiac MRI

A cardiac MRI scan uses magnets or radio waves to create images of the heart and help health care provider to detect the problem.

Cardiac CT scan

A cardiac CT scan uses x-ray images to create images of the blood by cells of the heart.

Cardiac catheterisation

With the help of a thin hollow tube called a catheter, this test helps a doctor to measure the pressure and blood flow in the heart.

How to treat cardiovascular diseases?

Treating cardiovascular diseases can rely on various factors like causes and symptoms. A doctor would analyse the cause and then treat the cardiovascular disease accordingly.

If a person has a heart infection, a doctor will prescribe an antibiotic, and if they have a plaque buildup, they can either adopt medication or advise a person to opt for a healthy lifestyle change.

The treatment of cardiovascular disease broadly falls under a few important categories.

Making lifestyle changes

A healthy lifestyle will improve a person’s overall health and reduce the chances of developing acute or chronic health conditions.

Practising a healthy lifestyle can also help a person treat the health condition and manage it from further degradation.

When a person decides to change their lifestyle, diet plays an important role.

Specifically, to improve heart health low sodium diet, a low-fat diet, rich in fruits, vegetables and lean protein can help reduce the chances of developing various cardiovascular diseases.

Following a healthy diet can also prevent hypertension and other blood-related issues. Consuming proper meals can reduce the bad or LDL cholesterol levels in the body.

When bad cholesterol accumulates in the arteries, it can cause various heart diseases. Consuming the right food and exercising regularly can lower the LDL cholesterol levels in the body.

Regular exercise is important and also helps a person prevent muscle and bone degradation. It is essential to quit smoking and limit alcohol consumption to improve the overall health of a person.

Medications

Medications are prescribed to treat various types of cardiovascular diseases. A doctor can prescribe medications to combat the health condition or manage the symptoms of heart disease.

Medications can help slow down or stop the risk of further health complications. The medication prescribed by a doctor varies depending on the type of health condition and how severe the symptoms are.

Surgical procedures

In certain cases of cardiovascular health conditions, surgery or a medical procedure is mandatory to treat the person and prevent the worsening of symptoms.

If the cardiovascular disease blocks the arteries due to plaque build-up, a doctor may insert a stent in the artery to regulate blood flow.

Such procedures require surgical intervention. Depending on the type of heart disease and the extent of damage, a doctor will decide if surgery or other invasive procedures is required to improve the health of the person.

Various procedures require various treatment approaches. For example, heart arrhythmia may require medications or a pacemaker to regulate the heartbeat.

To prevent heart attack, medications are prescribed. Coronary angioplasty or artery bypass surgeries are performed to help a person recover from a heart attack.

Strokes are treated with medications or carotid endarterectomy.

What are the ways in which a person can prevent cardiovascular diseases?

Some of the risk factors causing heart disease cannot be controlled. These factors pose a higher risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.

Conditions like

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • In-activeness 
  • Gender and
  • Hereditary factors can cause cardiovascular diseases.

Even though some of the heart disease-causing factors are uncontrollable, there are certain factors that a person can control.

Having healthy blood pressure and cholesterol

It is important to have healthy blood pressure and cholesterol ranges in our bodies. Healthy blood pressure is considered a number less than 120 systolic.

When the numbers are high, it indicates that the heart is working very hard to pump blood throughout the body.

The ideal cholesterol level in a person depends upon the risk factors and heart health history. If a person has heart disease or diabetes, then the target levels would be below those of those people with no risk.

Stress management

Stress can be harmful to the body. It is important to efficiently manage stress to lower the chances of developing heart diseases.

Chronic stress is often underestimated as a heart disease contributor. When people are anxious, the body undergoes pressure that can damage heart health.

When to visit a doctor?

Cardiovascular diseases are treated efficiently when the health care provider or a doctor diagnoses them earlier. If a person experiences any signs or symptoms of poor heart health, then it is important to visit a doctor immediately.

Symptoms like

  • Chest pain
  • Fainting
  • Breathlessness
  • Numbness and
  • Back pain should not be considered lightly.

Is there a cure for heart disease?

Heart diseases cannot be cured, and they are also irreversible. It requires lifelong treatment and cautious monitoring. Most symptoms of heart disease can be managed with medication or lifestyle practices. When such methods fail, there is a need for surgical procedures to manage the symptoms and treat the person.

It is important to take care of the overall health and continue to do that for many years to eliminate the slightest chance of developing heart diseases.

Cardiovascular diseases and the outlook

Many people can enjoy a quality life and manage their health condition with the help of a professional health care team. The chances of a positive outcome are more if the treatment plan is executed properly with constant monitoring and diagnosis.

To sum up

Cardiovascular diseases are health conditions that can affect the heart and blood vessels. Early diagnosis is essential to determine its presence in the body.

When there is no proper treatment, the disease can lead to stroke or heart attacks that can be fatal.

Making lifestyle changes and taking medications that are prescribed by the doctor can help manage cardiovascular diseases.

FAQs

What is cholesterol level and how does this affect my heart?

The body requires cholesterol to build cells, but a high level of cholesterol can increase the chances of developing heart disease.
 Cholesterol can be good or bad.  When there is a high level of bad cholesterol, it can cause a heart attack or stroke as it accumulates in the arteries preventing the smooth flow of blood.

Is my blood sugar normal?

A blood sugar range that is less than 140 mg per deciliter is considered normal.
Having a high level of blood sugar or low level of blood sugar can damage the body in many ways.

What should I do if my symptoms persist?

When symptoms exhibited by a person are persistent for a long time, it is important to visit a doctor and get diagnosed for various health conditions. Undiagnosed symptoms can lead to further health complications.

Are my exercise habits causing heart symptoms?

Exercises are the key to preventing heart diseases. However, intense exercise can increase the risk of a heart attack when people who have an existing condition do not monitor their activity level properly.
 Normal people without any health condition can worry less about developing a heart problem while exercising.


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