CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE

Cardiovascular disease generally refers to conditions that involve the heart and blood vessels e.g. hypertension, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy, heart failure, angina, heart valve diseasearrhythmia, arteriosclerosis,  etc.

  • Hypertension (High Blood pressure): It refers to the force or pressure of the blood against the walls of the blood vessels, also known as arteries.

  • Coronary Artery Disease: A disease in which a waxy substance called plaque builds up inside the coronary arteries (arteries that supply oxygen-rich blood to your heart muscle) also known as atherosclerosis.

 

  • Cardiomyopathy: Is a chronic disease of the heart muscle (myocardium), in which the muscle is abnormally enlarged, thickened, and/or stiffened. The weakened heart muscle loses the ability to pump blood effectively, resulting in irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias) and possibly even heart failure.

 

  • Heart failure: Is a serious medical condition where the heart does not pump blood around the body as well as it should. This means that your blood can't deliver enough oxygen and nourishment to your body to allow it to work normally. This, for example, may cause you to feel tired or fatigued. It also means that you can't eliminate waste products properly - leading to a build-up of fluid in your lungs and other parts of your body, such as your legs and abdomen.  Heart failure often develops because you have (or had) a medical condition affecting your heart.

 

  • Angina pectoris: The medical term for chest pain or discomfort (pressure or squeezing).  The heart muscle doesn't get as much blood (oxygen) as needed because one or more of the heart's arteries is narrowed or blocked, also called ischemia.

 

  • Atherosclerosis: the build-up of a waxy plaque (cholesterol) on the inside of blood vessels. Atherosclerosis is often called arteriosclerosis which is a general term for hardening of the arteries (losing elasticity).

 

** A heart attack occurs when a blood clot forms, or a plaque ruptures and forms a clot in the artery causing a complete blockage. That part of the heart muscle that is denied blood supply starts to die.

 

 

  • Arrhythmia (also known as Dysrhythmia) - Any abnormality in the normal rhythm of the heart, too slow, too fast or irregular. Rapid arrhythmias (more than 100 beats per minute) are called Tachycardia. Slow arrhythmias (less than 60 beats per minute) are called Bradycardia.

 

RISK FACTORS RELATED TO CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASES

Modifiable risk factors: those that can be reduced or controlled with changed behaviour [1; 2]

 

  • Physical inactivity: increase risk of being overweight.

  • Excessive cigarette smoking: damages and narrows arteries.

  • Being overweight.

  • Diet: eating unhealthy such as regular fast foods or foods high in fat puts you at greater risk.

 

Non-modifiable: those that cannot be changed [1; 2]

 

  • Family history: first degree relative who developed a cardiovascular disease at a young age puts you at a higher risk.

  • An increased risk has been seen with a family history of high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.  

  • High cholesterol levels are linked to cardiovascular disease.

  • Diabetes: due to high levels of sugar in the blood, this could potentially damage the walls of arteries and may cause the build-up of fatty deposits more likely.

  • Age: the older you get the higher the risk.

  • Gender: risk has been seen greater in women.

  • Ethnicity: greater risk has been seen in South Asian, African or Caribbean descent.

  • Socioeconomic status: greater risk has been seen in those who have a lower socioeconomic status with diet being one of the greatest factors.

 

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE:

  • Chest pain (Angina): a crushing pain or heaviness in the centre of the chest with radiation of the pain to the arm (usually the left) or jaw.

  • Upper abdominal, shoulder or back pain

  • Unstable angina is the term used to describe symptoms that occur at rest, waken the patient from sleep, and do not respond quickly to rest.

  • Overwhelming fatigue and weakness or a change in their ability to perform routine daily activities like walking, climbing steps, or doing household chores.

 

COMPLICATIONS OF HEART DISEASE INCLUDE:

  • Heart failure

  • Heart attack

  • Stroke

  • Aneurysm

  • Peripheral artery disease

  • Sudden cardiac arrest

LIFESTYLE CHANGES [3;4]

  • Sensation of smoking: as being one of the major risk factors, quitting can help reduce the risk and complications of heart disease, especially atherosclerosis. If any member of the household also smokes, it is encouraged for them to stop smoking as well.

  • A healthy diet can be achieved with the help of a dietician.  A diet composed mostly of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fiber, can have an adverse effect on modifiable risk factors such as high cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes and being overweight.

  • Proper management or control of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cholesterol and high blood pressure can help reduce your risk. This will include regular visits to the doctor for proper management and making sure you take your medications as prescribed.

  • Regular exercise to help lower your blood pressure, cholesterol and maintain a healthy weight. Exercise of moderate intensity for at least five times a week at a minimum of 30 minutes per day would be of great benefit.

  • Ask your doctor about techniques to manage stress, such as deep breathing exercises, yoga, meditation etc.

  • Talk to your doctor about symptoms of depression, such as a decrease in mood or irritability, fatigue or loss of energy, suicidal thoughts, etc. Depression has been seen to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

  • Limit the amount of alcohol you drink as excessive alcohol contributes to modifiable risk factors such as obesity.

 

REFERENCES

  1. World Health Organisation [Internet]. Cardiovascular disease. America: WHO; [updated 2017 May 17; cited 2019 Aug 12]. Available from: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/cardiovascular-diseases-(cvds)#.

  2. ADA [Internet]. Cardiovascular disease risk factors. Germany: Ada health GmbH; [Updated 2019 Jan; cited 2019 Aug 12]. Available from: https://ada.com/cardiovascular-disease-risk-factors/#fnref2.

  3. Mayo Clinic Staff [Internet]. Heart Disease. America: Mayo Clinic; [updated 2018 Mar 22; cited 2019 Aug 22]. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20353124.

  4. American Heart Association [Internet]. Lifestyle Changes for Heart Attack Prevention. America: America Heart association Inc; [updated 2015 Jul 31; cited Aug 12]. Available from: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/heart-attack/life-after-a-heart-attack/lifestyle-changes-for-heart-attack-prevention.

  5. The ARAB Hospital Magazine [Internet]. Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease. Lebanon: Arab Health Media Communication; [cited 2019 Sep 09]. Available from: http://thearabhospital.com/features/diabetes-cardiovascular-disease/.

  6. Kumar, A. 2018. The impact of obesity on cardiovascular disease risk factor. Asian Journal of Medical Sciences. 10: 1-12.

Disclaimer


The contents of this website are for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice; the Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

 

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