Heart diseases are one of the leading causes of death worldwide among adults and can affect just about anyone. There are many different types of heart diseases that affect health which have some similar symptoms in common and some other distinct symptoms. Early diagnosis of these heart diseases can greatly impact the treatment outcome. Hence, it’s important to see your doctor immediately you notice any symptoms.
Any damage to all or part of the heart, damage to the coronary arteries, or a poor supply of nutrients and oxygen to the organ can result in developing a heart disease. There are some types of heart disease, such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which are genetic. These, alongside congenital heart defects, can occur before a person is born. However, other types of heart diseases come about as a result of unhealthy lifestyle choices of individuals.
Risk Factors For Heart Diseases
Living a healthy lifestyle will go a long way to protect your heart and improve your general health. There are a number of conditions and lifestyle choices that can increase the risk of heart disease. These include:
- High blood pressure.
- High cholesterol.
- Overweight and obesity.
- Family history of heart diseases.
- Eating a diet of junk food.
- Age above 55 years.
- Having a history of preeclampsia during pregnancy.
- Staying in a stationary position for extended periods of time, such as sitting at work.
Having any of these risk factors greatly increases the risk of heart disease. Most of these risk factors are avoidable but some, such as age, are unavoidable.
Common Symptoms of Heart Diseases
The symptoms of heart disease depend on the particular type of heart condition affecting the individual. There are however, some heart conditions that occur without very obvious symptoms especially in elderly people. Doctors only get to pick out the signs of the heart condition during heart examination.
The commonest obvious symptoms of heart diseases include chest pain, breathlessness, and heart palpitations (fast heart beat). The chest pains associated with heart disease is known as angina, or angina pectoris, and occurs when a part of the heart does not receive enough oxygen.
Angina can be triggered by stressful events or physical exertion and normally lasts under 10 minutes. Breathlessness usually are due to heart failure as a result of existing heart disease or problems with the lungs.
People with heart diseases can suffer a heart attack. The signs of a heart attack are similar to angina pains, except that they can occur during rest and tend to be more severe. In addition the symptoms of a heart attack can sometimes resemble indigestion. Heartburn and a stomach ache can occur, as well as a heavy feeling in the chest.
Other symptoms of a heart attack include:
- Pain that travels through the body, for example from the chest to the arms, neck, back, abdomen, or jaw.
- Lightheadedness and dizzy sensations.
- Profuse sweating.
- Nausea and vomiting.
People with severe congenital heart disease can show symptoms immediately after birth. However, symptoms may not appear until the child is 13 years or even older. Symptoms of congenital heart disease may include :
- High levels of fatigue.
- Fast heartbeat and breathing.
- Chest pain.
- A blue tint to the skin.
- Clubbed fingernails.
Treatments for Heart Diseases
There are two main lines of treatment for heart diseases. Initially, a person can attempt to treat the heart condition using medications. If these do not have the desired effect, surgical options are available to help correct the issue.
A very wide range of medication is available for the majority of heart conditions. Many are prescribed to prevent blood clots, but some serve other purposes. The main medications in use are:
- Statins, for lowering cholesterol.
- Aspirin, clopidogrel, and warfarin, for preventing blood clots.
- Beta-blockers, for treating heart attack, heart failure, and high blood pressure.
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, for heart failure and high blood pressure.
Your doctor will work with you to find a medication that is safe and effective. They will also use medications to treat underlying conditions that can affect the heart, such as diabetes before they become problematic.
How You Can Prevent Heart Diseases
Some types of heart diseases, such as those that are present from birth, cannot be prevented. Other types, however, can be prevented by taking the following measures:
- Eat a balanced diet – Stick to low-fat, high-fiber foods. Also increase your intake of whole grains and reduce the amount of salt and sugar in the diet.
- Exercise regularly – This will strengthen the heart and circulatory system, reduce cholesterol, and maintain blood pressure.
- Weight control – Maintain a healthy body weight for your height.
- Quit Smoking and Alcohol – If you smoke, quit. Smoking is a major risk factor for cardiovascular conditions. Also stop or reduce the intake of alcohol. Do not drink more than 14 units per week.
- Treat other conditions – Control conditions that affect heart health as a complication, such as high blood pressure or diabetes.