The term ‘heart disease’ is attributed to a multitude cardiovascular diseases (heart and blood vessel diseases), including ischemic heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, high blood pressure (hypertension), or peripheral arterial disease.
Other cardiovascular diseases are myocarditis (heart disease caused by rheumatic fever) and congenital heart disease (malformations of the heart present at birth).
Heart diseases are associated with heart attacks (myocardial infarction), angina, and strokes.
Worldwide, one-third of the total deaths are caused by heart diseases, which is the main cause of death. Furthermore, heart diseases are responsible for more deaths in the world than cancer, chronic respiratory failure, and diabetes.
In addition to their impact on countries and the population as a cause of death, heart diseases are also a major cause of disability and chronic illness, which is a considerable burden on medical systems and the economy. By 2020, it is estimated that the heart diseases will become the main cause of disability, outgrowing the infectious diseases.
Heart disease: Causes.
Acute events such as myocardial infarction and stroke are predominantly caused by atherosclerosis, which is characterized by the progressive deposition of fatty material (cholesterol, platelets, and cellular debris) on the arterial wall of the blood vessels that irrigate the heart or brain.
Residual accumulations cause lesions or atheromatous. Over time, these lesions increase and dilate, narrowing the artery and thus limiting the amount of blood flowing through the vessels. The blood vessel can thus harden and lose flexibility.
Because heart and brain are not properly irrigated, these blood flow limitations associated with atherosclerosis can cause cardiovascular problems such as angina. More severe limitations can degenerate into serious cardiovascular events, including heart attacks and strokes.
Being dilated, the arteries can break, developing blood clots that can completely block the vessels, causing heart attacks and strokes.
Heart disease: Types of heart diseases.
Different forms of cardiovascular diseases are:
- Ischemic heart disease – a condition of blood vessels that irrigate the heart. The implications of the ischemic heart disease include myocardial infarction heart attack, angina (chest pain), and some abnormal heart rhythms.
- Cerebrovascular diseases – are diseases of the blood vessels that irrigate the brain. The implications of the cerebrovascular disease include cerebral attacks (disorders of brain cells caused by insufficient blood irrigation), transient ischemic attack (temporary alteration of vision, speech, touch, or movement).
- Peripheral arterial disease – is a disorder of blood vessels that irrigate arms and legs, which can result in intermittent pains or cramps, especially during physical exercises, in the leg muscles.
The most common symptoms of heart attack include pain or discomfort in the middle of the chest, arms, left shoulder, elbows, jaws, or back. Other symptoms include dyspnea (difficulty in breathing) or respiratory failure, malaise, vomiting, apathy, or fainting, cold perspiration, palpitations.
The most common symptom of brain injury is the sudden sensation of a weakness of the face and the limbs, most often on one side of the body. Other symptoms include the rapid onset of the following:
- atrophy of the face and limbs
- difficulty in speaking or understanding
- difficulty in seeing with one eye or with the both eyes
- difficulty in walking
- loss of balance or coordination
- fainting or unconsciousness
Heart disease: Risk factors.
There are a number of well-defined risk factors that can be divided into two main categories:
- Modifiable – those that can be influenced
- Unchangeable – those that can not be influenced or treated
The main modifiable risk factors are responsible for about 80% of the ischemic heart disease and cerebrovascular disease cases.
Modifiable risk factors are:
- abnormal cholesterol levels
- Diabetes or disruption of glucose tolerance
- Obesity (IMC 30)
- Lack of physical activity
- diabetic kidney disease
Unchangeable risk factors are:
- Age – over 55 years for men, and over 65 years for women
- Premature heart diseases occurrence in family history
Heart disease: Prevention.
First, it is important to see if you are developing a heart condition. It is important to know your weight, your blood sugar level, and the cholesterol level. It is also important to take action early if in your family there have been cases of first degree relatives ill of cardiovascular diseases.
If you do not know the risks, you probably will not take a proper action that could save your life.
The symptoms of heart attack in women are different from those seen in men. In fact, 43% of women who have an attack do not feel any chest pain. But most people experience fatigue before a heart attack.
A few days or even weeks before a heart attack, more than 70% of women experience flu-like exhaustion, according to Marianne Legato, MD, director of the New York Medical Foundation.
Although it does not cause symptoms, increased blood pressure increases the risk of a heart attack or a cerebral aneurysm. It is important to measure your tension, and if it is too high, take action to lower it.
This can be done without medical treatment by adopting a healthy lifestyle. Reduce the alcohol consumption, salty foods, and quit smoking if you are a smoker.
A healthy diet, rich in fresh vegetables and fruits, is ideal for maintaining the heart’s health. It is important to avoid eating salty foods and fatty foods.
You should also reduce the consumption of processed foods, carbonated beverages, and red meat.
Equally important is the prevention of obesity, which means that you need to workout and to have regular meals without any excess.
Heart disease: Treatment.
Pharmacological interventions can help treat almost all types of heart diseases, including hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes or glucose tolerance disruptions.
The different classes of existing drugs used for treating different types of heart diseases are:
- Oral anticoagulants
- Lipid lowering medicines
- Cholesterol absorption inhibitors
- Oral anti-diabetics
Following a heart attack or stroke, the risk of a new attack or stroke can be greatly reduced by medication, such as cholesterol-lowering statins, blood pressure-lowering drugs, and aspirin.