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Everything You Need To Know About Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular Disease - (Image Credit: Shutterstock)

30-Second-Summary
  • Cardiovascular diseases may affect your heart and blood vessels like arteries and veins.
  • Cardiovascular diseases might cause the highest number of deaths globally, estimated at around 17 million annually.
  • You can prevent cardiovascular diseases by checking on risk factors such as obesity, tobacco abuse, unhealthy eating, and excessive use of alcohol.
  • It's easier to treat cardiovascular diseases when diagnosed early. So, get regular cardiovascular checkups and watch out for any symptoms.
  • Heart diseases affect the functioning of your heart in different ways like abnormal heartbeats, clogging of the arteries, heart failure, and heart muscle failure.
  • Also, experts say that bacteria, viruses, and parasites are cardiovascular disease causes.

Introduction

Cardiovascular Diseases are disorders that may affect your heart and blood vessels. They are the most dangerous diseases in the world. Some cardiovascular diseases affect the heart, while others, like atherosclerosis, might cause the blockage of arteries. You can suffer from heart diseases regardless of age, gender, or race. Cardiovascular diseases are the leading causes of death on the planet.

However, cardiovascular diseases are preventable. And there are many cardiovascular disease treatment options. Sometimes the symptoms and prevention side effects are similar.

Some cardiovascular disease types include cardiomyopathy, atherosclerosis, arrhythmia, coronary artery disease, and congenital heart defects. Every heart disease has a preferred cardiovascular disease treatment.

What Causes Cardiovascular Diseases?

Heart diseases are a combination of diseases and conditions that involve other cardiovascular disorders. Each cardiovascular disease has a unique cause. Some cardiovascular disease causes include diabetes, congenital heart defects, hypertension, excessive alcohol and caffeine use, existing heart damage, stress, and depression.

Furthermore still, bacteria, viruses, and parasites may cause heart infections. If not controlled or detected early enough, some heart infections may cause fatal consequences. Also, obese people and people with high cholesterol levels are at higher risk of contracting cardiovascular diseases.

But, smokers and physically inactive people are on top of the list to contract heart disease.

Fortunately, you can control most cardiovascular disease causes. However, you may not control cardiovascular disease causes, such as family history, age, sex, and ethnicity. Yet, although these defects are uncontrollable, you can control their effects.

Different Cardiovascular Disease Types

Heart disease types

1. Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis is a common cardiovascular disorder caused by plaques forming in the arteries. Plaques are sticky substances that form in your arteries affecting blood flow. Essentially, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, large amounts of triglycerides[1] in your blood, diabetes or obesity, and smoking cause plaques.

2. Cardiomyopathy

Cardiomyopathy is a heart anomaly that affects the heart muscle making it hard for the heart to pump blood normally. It can easily cause death since it leads to heart failure. However, many people suffering from cardiomyopathy can lead whole lives when diagnosed early. There are three main types of cardiomyopathy:

3. Dilated Cardiomyopathy

In dilated cardiomyopathy, the left ventricle gets dilated and cannot pump blood out of the heart. It is most common in middle-aged people. Generally, coronary artery disorders cause dilated cardiomyopathy.

4. Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

In hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the heart muscle thickens abnormally. It makes it hard for the heart to pump blood normally. This type of cardiomyopathy is critical when it affects children but can affect anyone irrespective of age. Still, experts link hypertrophic cardiomyopathy to genetics or family history as a common cause.

5. Restrictive Cardiomyopathy

In restrictive cardiomyopathy, the heart becomes less flexible and stiff. As a result, the heart fails to expand as it pumps blood. It is the least common type of cardiomyopathy compared to other types of cardiomyopathy.

6. Coronary Artery Disease

Coronary arteries provide blood and nutrients to the heart muscles. Coronary artery disease is when the coronary arteries cannot supply the heart muscles with enough blood and nutrients. It could be due to cholesterol deposits causing plaques, inflammation, or narrowing of the coronary artery. Arterial plaques[2] contain different substances such as cholesterol, fat, calcium, and cellular wastes.

7. Heart Infections

Heart infections may occur because organisms such as bacteria, parasites, and viruses affect your heart. Myocarditis, endocarditis, and pericarditis are all types of heart infections[3]. Bacteria cause endocarditis. Here, bacteria get attached to vulnerable areas in the heart, causing damage to heart valves. Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscles due to infection by pathogens. However, different organisms like viruses can cause Myocarditis.

Congenital Heart Defects

Congenital defects are already present in the heart during birth. It might be that blood vessels had not formed correctly in the uterus or even septal defects[4]. There are different types of congenital defects. They include:

  • Ebstein’s Disease – It is where the tricuspid valve is not well developed.
  • Coarctation Of The Aorta – It is where the main artery is very narrow, reducing the amount of blood flowing from the heart.
  • Aortic Valve Stenosis – Here, the aortic valve controlling blood flow out of the left ventricle is narrowed or defective.
  • Septal Defects – It is where the walls in the ventricular chambers of the heart are damaged.

Arrhythmia

Arrhythmia

Arrhythmia is a heart anomaly affecting the rate at which your heart beats. When suffering from arrhythmia, either your heart beats too fast, too slow, or irregularly. There are different types of arrhythmia[5] depending on the rate of your heartbeat. When the heartbeat is too fast, it is called tachycardia. When it is too slow, it is called bradycardia. Arrhythmia is considered less harmless compared to other heart anomalies. In truth, arrhythmia increases your risk of a more serious heart condition. Sometimes, arrhythmia might be a symptom of other cardiovascular disease types.

Major Symptoms Of Cardiovascular Diseases

Some cardiovascular diseases share similar symptoms. Still, many show unique symptoms, which help doctors apply proper cardiovascular disease treatment. Below are some cardiovascular disease symptoms.

1. Arrhythmia Symptoms

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Slow or irregular heartbeat
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Low blood pressure
  • Dizziness and fainting

2. Cardiomyopathy Symptoms

  • Fatigue
  • Swelling of legs and ankles
  • Chest pressure
  • Bloating due to excess fluids
  • Loss of breath
  • Difficulty lying to sleep

3. Symptoms Of Congenital Heart Defects

  • Accelerated heartbeat
  • Fatigue and rapid breathing in a baby
  • Cyanosis (blue tinge to the lips)
  • Swelling around the eyes

4. Heart Infections Symptoms

  • Fever
  • Fluid buildup in the legs, feet, ankles, or abdomen
  • Night sweats
  • Arrhythmia
  • Shortness of breath

5. Atherosclerosis Symptoms

  • Pain where there is a blocked artery
  • Confusion if the blockage of arteries alters the circulation of blood to your brain
  • Chest pain
  • Loss of sensory function
  • General body weakness

6. Symptoms Of Coronary Artery Disease

  • Nausea and dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Angina (chest discomfort)
  • Pain in the arms or shoulder

Cardiovascular Disease Treatment Options

Cardiovascular Disease Treatment
Here are some cardiovascular disease treatment options.

1. Arrhythmia

Arrhythmia treatment depends on which type of arrhythmia you have. However, some types of arrhythmia do not need any medication. You can control arrhythmia by getting regular checkups from your doctor. Medications to treat arrhythmia include drugs to control your heartbeat or blood thinners to help prevent blood clots. Arrhythmia is manageable and curable when you follow the given prescription.

2. Cardiomyopathy

Treatment options for cardiomyopathy include:

  • Abstaining from alcohol.
  • Controlling salt intake.
  • Installing a pacemaker to help maintain normal heartbeats.
  • In case the heart is too damaged, you may need a heart transplant.
  • Ablation to remove excess heart tissue to reduce thickening.

3. Congenital Heart Defects

Congenital defects need treatment on an immediate diagnosis. But, some heart defects may require urgent surgeries, medications, transplants, or preferred heart procedures.

Treatment Options

  • Heart surgery
  • Cardiac intervention
  • Heart transplant
  • ACE inhibitors and Angiotensin-2 receptor blockers

4. Heart Infection Treatment Options

  • Antibiotics
  • Heart medications
  • Hypertension medications
  • Medications for chronic conditions
  • Antifungal medications

5. Atherosclerosis

  • Blood thinners
  • Statins and similar cholesterol medications
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Diet control to handle the plaque

6. Coronary Artery Disease

  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors
  • Aspirin
  • Calcium channel blockers
  • Cholesterol drugs
  • Beta-blockers

Risk Factors For Cardiovascular

Risk Factors For Cardiovascular Diseases

1. Coronary Artery Disease

  • Overweight
  • Unhealthy eating
  • Smoking tobacco
  • Long periods of physical inactivity

2. Atherosclerosis

  • Smoking
  • Obesity or physical inactivity
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes and high blood pressure

3. Heart Infections

  • Smoking
  • Poor diet
  • Diabetes
  • Age
  • Family history
  • High blood pressure and cholesterol levels

4. Congenital Heart Defects

  • Diabetes
  • Drinking alcohol during pregnancy
  • Having German measles(rubella) during pregnancy
  • Family history and genetics

5. Cardiomyopathy

  • COVID-19 infection
  • Damaged heart tissue
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart valve problems
  • Consistently increasing heartbeat
  • Infections that cause inflammation of the heart
  • Obesity, thyroid disease, and other metabolic disorders
  • Accumulation of iron in the heart muscles

6. Arrhythmia

  • Sleep apnea
  • Excessive alcohol or caffeine consumption
  • Thyroid disease occurs when the thyroid gland is either underactive or overactive.
  • Medications such as allergy drugs are bought without a proper prescription.
  • High blood pressure
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Cardiomyopathy or changes to the heart structure
  • Congenital heart disease

Prevention Of Cardiovascular Diseases

Prevention Of Cardiovascular Diseases
You can control and prevent getting various cardiovascular disease types by avoiding certain practices. For instance, leading a healthy lifestyle can help prevent most cardiovascular diseases. So, eat healthy food filled with nutrients. Take enough calories but avoid being obese. And refrain from food with large amounts of bad cholesterol.

Additionally, avoid unhealthy fats since they are dangerous to heart health. Checking on these factors in your diet will hugely reduce the risk of heart disease.

Furthermore, exercising helps prevent many cardiovascular disease types and reduces the chances of their occurrence by far. Exercise keeps you physically and mentally fit and promotes your overall health. So, have a proper workout routine to help keep you fit and burn the extra fat that may harm your health.

Again, stress, depression, and anxiety are vital to your heart health.

So, avoid stress at all costs by learning stress management techniques. Specifically, stress increases hormone levels in the body leading to inflammation, a common risk factor for cardiovascular diseases.

Another risk factor for all heart diseases is smoking tobacco. Tobacco has no health benefits. It only harms your body.

Therefore, avoid smoking tobacco because it increases your chances of having chronic illnesses.

Moreover, high blood pressure causes cardiovascular defects. So, get your blood pressure checked regularly by your doctor to be on the safe side. Avoid situations that might raise your blood pressure higher than usual by adjusting your lifestyle. Better still, limit your alcohol consumption to avoid high blood pressure. Excessive consumption of alcohol also causes weight gain that raises your chances of heart disease.

Conclusion

Cardiovascular diseases are disorders affecting the heart and blood vessels. They are the leading cause of death globally because they affect the most crucial organ in your body. However, they are treatable if discovered early. Common cardiovascular disease includes coronary artery disease, arrhythmia, atherosclerosis, congenital defects, and heart infections.

Heart diseases carry symptoms such as chest pains, high blood pressure, headache, dizziness, difficulties with vision, and many more.

Ensure you go for a checkup if you have such symptoms. And ensure you get the proper cardiovascular disease treatment.

Some cardiovascular disease causes come from factors such as physical inactivity, abuse of tobacco and alcohol, and an unhealthy diet. These factors are controllable. However, some cardiovascular anomalies are genetically transmitted and hence uncontrollable.

Cardiovascular defects have approved treatment options such as surgery, heart transplant, and medication to help deal with risk factors such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

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