Heart Disease

Heart disease describes a range of conditions that affect the heart. Conditions classified as heart disease include diseases of the blood vessels, such as coronary artery disease, heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias), and heart defects that affect a person since birth (congenital heart defects), among others.

The term “heart disease” is often used in an interchangeable way with the term “cardiovascular disease”. “Cardiovascular disease” often refers to diseases that involve a constriction or blockage of blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack, chest pain (angina), or stroke. Other heart diseases, such as those that affect the muscles, valves, or rhythm of the heart, are also considered forms of cardiovascular disease.

Symptoms

The symptoms of cardiovascular disease can be different for men and women. For example, men are more likely to have chest pain; women may have other symptoms along with chest distress, such as shortness of breath, nausea, and extreme fatigue.

Symptoms may include the following:

E
Chest pain, chest pressure, and chest discomfort (angina)
E
Difficulty in breathing.
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Pain, numbness, weakness, and cold feeling in the legs or arms if the blood vessels in those parts of the body are constricted.
E
Pain in the neck, jaw, throat, upper abdomen, or back

Risk Factors

Age

Aging increases the risk that the arteries will become damaged and constricted, and that the heart muscle will weaken or thicken.

Sex

In general, men are at higher risk for heart disease. However, the risk for women increases after menopause.

Family history

A family history of heart disease increases your risk for coronary artery disease, especially if one of your parents developed it at an early age (before age 55 for a male relative, such as your brother or father, and before age 65 for a female relative, such as your mother or sister).

Smoking

Nicotine contracts the blood vessels, and carbon monoxide can damage their internal linings, making them more susceptible to atherosclerosis. Heart attacks are more common in smokers than in non-smokers.

Some chemotherapy and radiation therapy drugs for cancer

 Some chemotherapy drugs and radiation therapy may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Poor nutrition

A diet high in fat, salt, sugar and cholesterol can contribute to heart disease.

High blood pressure

Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to hardening and thickening of the arteries, which causes constriction of the vessels through which the blood circulates.

High cholesterol levels in the blood

High cholesterol levels in the blood can increase the risk of plaque formation and atherosclerosis.

Diabetes

Diabetes increases the risk of heart disease. Both conditions share similar risk factors, such as obesity and high blood pressure.

Obesity

Excess weight usually aggravates other risk factors.

Lack of physical activity

Lack of exercise is also associated with many forms of heart disease and some of its other risk factors.

Stress

Untreated stress can damage arteries and worsen other risk factors for heart disease.

Poor hygiene

Not washing your hands regularly and not developing other habits that can help prevent viral or bacterial infections can put you at risk for heart infections, especially if you already have an undiagnosed heart condition.

Poor dental hygiene can also contribute to heart disease.

Prevention

  • Quit smoking.
  • Control other diseases, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol and diabetes.
  • Exercise at least 30 minutes a day most days of the week.
  • Follow a diet low in salt and saturated fat.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Reduce and manage stress.
  • Practice good hygiene habits.

Treatment

Treatments for heart disease may vary depending on the condition.

Lifestyle changes. These include following a low-fat, low-sodium diet, getting at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week, quitting smoking, and limiting alcohol intake.

Medication. If lifestyle changes aren’t enough, your doctor may prescribe medicine to manage your heart disease. The type of medicine depends on the type of heart disease.

Medical procedures or surgery. If medicine isn’t enough, your doctor may recommend specific procedures or surgery. The type of procedure will depend on the type of heart disease and the severity of the damage to your heart.

Vitamins

Vitamin B: It is important for protein metabolism. It helps in the formation of red blood cells in the blood and in the maintenance of the central nervous system.

Vitamin C: acts as an antioxidant, helping to protect cells from free radical damage and keep artery walls in good condition.

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