A myriad of conditions that affect the structure and function of the heart are together called as heart disease. It is also called as cardiovascular disease which refers to a condition such as narrowed or blocked blood vessels leading to a heart attack. Other forms of heart disease include heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias) and birth defects (congenital heart defects). Some heart diseases are not intense and can be treated with medical care but some of them are dangerous, sudden and life-threatening. Certain heart disease like coronary artery disease can be managed by regular exercise and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
WHAT ARE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF HEART DISEASE?
Signs and symptoms vary in men and women. However, there are some common signs and symptoms of heart disease which are as follows:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Weakness in arms or legs
- Pain in the neck, lower jaw or back
- Change in heartbeat
- Extreme fatigue
WHAT CAUSES HEART DISEASE?
Numerous underlying causes that lead to heart disease are:
- Plaque formation in the arteries causes decreased blood supply to the heart. Rupture of the plaque may completely block the blood flow causing heart attack.
- Blood clot obstructing a coronary artery can cause a heart attack as it supplies blood to heart muscles.
- Viral infections lead to myocarditis which causes inflammation and weakens the heart making it vulnerable to heart disease.
- Injury to pericardium can lead to heart disease.
WHAT ARE THE RISK FACTORS OF HEART DISEASE?
Certain factors which can increase the risk of heart disease are as follows:
- High blood pressure causes excess strain on the arteries supplying blood to the heart which eventually leads to heart disease.
- High cholesterol levels lead to the formation of cholesterol plaques on the inner walls of arteries causing coronary artery disease.
- Excessive alcohol consumption causes an increase in blood pressure leading to a heart attack.
- Smoking damages the linings of the arteries causing fat build-up and hence develops a risk of heart disease.
- Diabetes is a major risk factor for heart disease which is characterized by high blood glucose levels making the arteries hard and rigid.
- Stress increases the risk of heart diseases.
- Genetics plays an important role in the development of heart disease.
- Sedentary and physically inactive lifestyle makes individuals vulnerable to heart disease.
COMPLICATIONS OF HEART DISEASE?
Signs of heart disease should not be ignored. Medical treatment can help reduce the adverse effects and prolong the life span of an individual. If not treated heart disease may cause several complications, some of heart disease facts are listed below:
- Heart failure can occur, as pumping of blood to the body parts by heart becomes difficult.
- Heart attack often occurs due to a decreased blood flow to the heart.
- Ischemic stroke can occur as the blood flow to the brain is narrowed.
- Sudden cardiac arrest can lead to the death of the individual.
- The aneurysm is a life-threatening complication in which the artery is bulged and may burst to lead to severe internal bleeding.
HOW DOES DOCTOR DIAGNOSE HEART DISEASE?
Depending on the type of heart disease, the diagnostic tests vary. Physical examination and questions on family history are routine before performing any tests. Different tests used in the diagnosis of heart disease are:
- Blood test is done to check the levels of the markers of heart disease.
- Electrocardiogram (ECG) detects irregularities in the heart’s rhythm and structure and helps in identifying an underlying cause for heart disease.
- Echocardiogram is an ultrasound of a chest which shows detailed images of the heart’s structure and function. It is a noninvasive test.
- Cardiac computerized tomography (CT) scan collects images of heart and chest helping in detecting heart associated problems.
- Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) helps in assessing the function and structure of the whole cardiovascular system.
- Cardiac catheterization involves the insertion of a short tube (sheath) into a vein or artery in the leg (groin) or arm which helps in detecting abnormalities in blood flow through the heart, blood vessels, and valves.
WHAT ARE THE MEDICAL TREATMENT FOR HEART DISEASE?
Treatment for heart disease can be medication or surgery depending upon the condition and age of the individual. Different possible treatment options are given below:
- Percutaneous coronary intervention helps in treating heart disease by opening the blocked arteries.
- Coronary artery bypass grafting treats heart disease by replacing the blocked arteries with arteries or veins from other parts of the body.
- Cardiac rehabilitation involves planned exercise, diet, and education about the condition thus helping the individuals to reduce the complications of heart disease.
Certain changes in daily routine can help in prevention. Some of which are listed below:
- Exercise regularly
- Stress management
- Healthy eating habits
- Relaxation techniques
Heart attacks are usually sudden and mimic the symptoms of gastric trouble.