What is cardiovascular Disease?

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a general term for all the conditions and disorders that affect the heart and/or blood vessels

What Is Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)? Types, Prevention, And Treatment

Whenever we hear the term Cardiovascular disease, we automatically think about heart attacks or maybe strokes. But the fact is that Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a general term for all the conditions and disorders that affect the heart and/or blood vessels,  which means that heart attacks and strokes are in fact counted as CVD, but cardiovascular diseases can be a range of various disorders, not just limited to strokes and heart attacks.

Overview

The word cardiovascular itself is derived from the Latin words, meaning Heart and a Network of Vessels. The conditions are usually associated with a build-up of fatty deposits inside the arteries and an increased risk of blood clots and can cause damage to the arteries in organs such as the brain, heart, kidneys, and eyes.

According to The World Health Organization (WHO), “CVDs are the number 1 cause of death globally: more people die annually from CVDs than from any other cause.”

But as it turns out there are very basic lifestyle choices that help in preventing cardiovascular conditions. Here we are going to discuss the various types of CVDs, symptoms, causes, treatments, and most importantly their prevention methods.

In addition, going through heart conditions can be stressful and overwhelming for both the patient and the family. It is crucial to make sure that treatment plans are best suitable for your case.

This is why we offer free medical consultations for patients, with the best medical professionals in the field. So before you choose the most effective treatment for you, make sure you have all the facts there is to know about your condition and possible treatments.

Types of Cardiovascular Diseases (CVDs)

There are many different types of cardiovascular diseases; however, they can be categorized into 4 main types of conditions which we explain below.

1) Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)

To better understand this disease, let’s first explain how our hearts function in our bodies.

  • The heart is a muscle about the size of your fist. Its main function is to pump blood through your body and organs and beats approximately 70 times a minute.
  • After the blood exits the right side of the heart, it then goes to your lungs where it becomes oxygen-rich, meaning that the blood picks up oxygen from the lungs.
  • For the blood to get pumped through the body’s organs, the oxygen-rich blood goes through the heart once again and then gets pumped into different organs of the body through a network of arteries.
  • The blood returns to your heart through veins before being pumped back to your lungs again to continue the cycle from the top. This process is called circulation.
  • Coronary arteries are the blood vessels on the heart’s surface.  The heart gets its own supply of blood from these coronary arteries.



Blood Circulation In Body

Now with these being said, Coronary Heart Disease occurs when the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle is blocked or reduced because of fatty substance build-ups in the coronary arteries, which can affect the heart to become strained and lead to:

  • Heart Attacks (Blockage of the blood flow to the heart muscle)
  • Heart Failure (The inability of the heart to pump blood around the body properly)
  • Angina (Chest pain caused by insufficient blood flow to the heart muscle)

Symptoms Of Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)

The most common symptom of CHD is having chest pains (angina). Other symptoms may include but are not limited to heart palpitations and unusual breathlessness. Keep in mind that not all patients may experience the symptoms before they are diagnosed.

Causes Of Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)

Patients with a history of high cholesterol, high blood pressure (hypertension), or diabetes, are more at risk for developing CHD.  

Also, lifestyle factors, such as smoking and regularly drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can cause the arteries to be built-up with fatty deposits and lead to CHD.

Preventing Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)

In general, keeping your heart healthy will have health benefits such as helping reduce your risk of stroke and dementia.

You can reduce your risk of getting CHD by making some simple and basic lifestyle changes including:

  • Maintaining A Healthy, Balanced Diet
  • Quitting Smoking
  • Being Physically Active And Exercising Regularly
  • Controlling Blood Cholesterol And Sugar Levels

Diagnosing Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)

If your care physician suspects that you’re at risk, after checking your family history and lifestyle, they will most likely carry out a series of tests to confirm CHD, including: 

Treating Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)

Keep in mind that coronary heart disease cannot be cured. But with treatment, you can manage the symptoms and reduce the risks of further complications such as heart attacks or strokes.

As said above, lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking and regular exercise can be extremely beneficial in decreasing the chances of getting CHD.

Some medicines may be prescribed by your doctor to help you in managing some symptoms.

Also, some patients may need coronary angioplasty, where the doctor will insert balloons and stents (tubes) in the coronary arteries to help with the narrowness of them caused by the disease. The procedure is typically performed under local anesthesia, which means that the patient will be awake but sedated during the surgery.

Coronary Angioplasty

2) Strokes

Like all organs, our brains need oxygen and nutrients provided by blood to function properly.

If the supply of blood is restricted or blocked, brain cells begin to die. This can lead to brain injury, disability, and possibly death.

Types Of Strokes

An Ischemic Stroke (the most common type of stroke) occurs when a blood vessel that feeds the brain gets blocked, usually from a blood clot.

 “Mini Stroke” or TIA (Transient Ischaemic Attack) however, occurs when the blood flow to the brain is only temporarily disrupted. This condition can last a few minutes or persist up to 24 hours. TIAs should be treated urgently, as they’re often a warning sign you’re at risk of having a full stroke soon.

A Hemorrhagic Stroke occurs when a blood vessel within the brain bursts. This is typically caused by uncontrolled high blood pressure.

Each time the blood flow gets blocked and not enough oxygen gets to brain cells, these cells may die from lack of oxygen. If too many brain cells die- which are never replaced- brain damage can be expected.

However, the good news is that it is not always that brain cells die during the stroke — instead, they survive and are just damaged temporarily. As time passes and recovery begins, injured cells repair themselves, and therefore, previously impaired function improves.

Symptoms Of Stroke

According to NHS If you suspect someone or yourself of having a stroke, you can assess for these main symptoms easily remembered with the word FAST, which stands for:

Face: the face may have drooped on one side, the person may be unable to smile, or their mouth or eye may have dropped.

Arms: the person may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there because of arm weakness or numbness in one arm.

Speech: their speech may be slurred, or they may not be able to talk at all.

Time: it’s time to dial emergency services immediately if you see any of these signs or symptoms.

Causes Of A Stroke

If you have a condition that increases your risk of a stroke, it’s important to manage it effectively. For example, taking medicine you have been prescribed to lower high blood pressure or cholesterol levels.

If you have had a stroke or TIA in the past, these measures are particularly important because your risk of having another stroke is greatly increased.

Conditions stated below, can increase the chances of having a stroke. They include:

Preventing A Stroke

You can greatly reduce your risk of having a stroke by:

  • Maintaining A Healthy, Balanced Diet
  • Stopping Smoking
  • Being Physically Active And Exercising Regularly
  • Controlling Alcohol Intake (Not Drinking More Than 14 Units A Week)

Treating A Stroke

Strokes are normally treated with medication. This includes medicines to dissolve blood clots and prevent new clots from happening, maintain blood flow, reduce blood pressure, and reduce cholesterol levels.

In some cases where there are risks of further bleeding or signs of brain swelling after the stroke, procedures and surgeries may be required to be done to treat the conditions.

In general, the treatment of a stroke mainly depends on the type of stroke you had, the cause, and also on the part of the brain that was affected by it.

3) Peripheral Arterial Disease(PAD)

Peripheral arterial disease occurs when there’s a blockage in the arteries with fatty deposits, that restrict blood flow to the limbs, usually the legs. It’s also known as peripheral vascular disease (PVD).

Symptoms Of Peripheral Arterial Disease

Many people with this condition show no symptoms. However, the patients that do, often develop them slowly, over some time. If you’re experiencing symptoms quickly or get suddenly worse, it could be a sign of a serious condition requiring urgent medical attention.

The most common symptom people can develop is pains in their legs when they walk (medically knows as intermittent claudication) which usually disappears after resting a few minutes.

The severity of this pain varies in patients, and while it can be in both legs, the ache may also feel worse in one leg.

Other symptoms of PAD can include but are not limited to:

  • Hair Loss On Your Legs And Feet
  • Numbness Or Weakness In The Legs
  • Ulcers (Open Sores) On Your Feet And Legs, Which Do Not Heal
  • Changing Skin Colour On Your Legs, Such As Turning Pale Or Blue
  • Erectile Dysfunction In Men
  • The Shrinking Of The Muscles In Your Legs (Wasting)

Causes Of Peripheral Arterial Disease

Certain things can increase your chances of developing PAD, such as:

  • High Blood Pressure
  • High Cholesterol
  • Smoking
  • Type 1 And Type 2 Diabetes
  • Growing Older

Treating Peripheral Arterial Disease

With treatment, most patients may experience an improvement in their pain.

PAD is widely treated through lifestyle changes already mentioned previously, including:

  • Exercising Regularly
  • No Smoking
  • Eating A Healthy Diet
  • Losing Weight (If You’re Overweight Or Obese)
  • Moderating Your Consumption Of Alcohol

Underlying causes such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes should also be treated. Medicine and, in some cases, surgery can be used to improve the blood flow in your legs.

4) Aortic Disease

The Aorta is the largest blood vessel in the body, which carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body. Aortic diseases are the group of conditions that affect the aorta.

One of the most common aortic diseases is an abdominal aortic aneurysm(AAA), where the aorta becomes weakened and bulges out, therefore, not functioning properly when pumping blood to the body. If left untreated, the aorta can burst inside the body and lead to life-threatening problems.

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

Symptoms Of An Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA)

AAAs do not usually cause any obvious symptoms therefore are often only diagnosed during screening or tests carried out for other reasons.

However, some symptoms may include stomach pain, lower back pain, and/or a pulsing sensation in the stomach (like a heartbeat).

If An AAA Bursts, It Can Cause:

  • Sudden, Severe Pain In The Tummy Or Lower Back
  • Dizziness
  • Sweaty, Pale And Clammy Skin
  • A Fast Heartbeat
  • Shortness Of Breath
  • Fainting Or Passing Out

It is crucial to call for urgent care immediately if you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of a burst AAA.

Treatments For An Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA)

Treatment of an AAA mostly depends on the size of it. If the risk of an AAA bursting is low, immediate treatment may not be necessary. Your physician determines how to tackle the problem and treat it best.

Based on the size, you may either need regular ultrasound scans to make sure the AAA has not grown or may need to have surgery to reverse the condition.

People at a higher risk of getting an AAA to include:

  • Men Aged 65 Or Over 
  •  Smokers
  • People With High Blood Pressure 
  • People With A Parent, Sibling Or Child With An AAA (family history)

Preventing An Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA)

There are certain ways to reduce your chances of getting an AAA or help stop one from getting bigger.

These can include:

  • Quitting Smoking 
  • Having A Healthy Diet And Eating Habits
  • Exercising Regularly 
  • Maintaining A Healthy Weight 
  • Cutting Down On Drinking Alcohol 

Keep in mind that

  1. AAAs are up to 6 times more common in men than women, and the risk of getting one goes up with age.
  2. Smokers are up to 15 times more likely to get an AAA.
  3. If you have high blood pressure, it can double your risk of getting an AAA.
  4. you’re about 4 times more likely to get an AAA if a close relative has had one.

These were the 4 main types of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs).

Coronary Heart Diseases (CHD)
Strokes
Peripheral Arterial Diseases(PAD)
Aortic Diseases  

To Summerize

It is important to have a healthy heart and blood vessels to lead a healthy and uncomplicated life. As mentioned multiple times, basic lifestyle changes can significantly reduce the risks and chances of developing CVDs.

Risk factors such as unhealthy diet, harmful use of alcohol, smoking, and inactivity that lead to overweight or obesity, are the main causes in most cardiovascular conditions.

Make sure to check with your doctor regularly, and if you are experiencing any symptoms regarding cardiovascular diseases, you can take advantage of our free medical consultation, with the best medical professionals in the field.

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