Cardiovascular diseases is a class of diseases that includes diseases and disorders of the heart or blood vessels i.e. arteries and veins. The term is, however, generally used for atherosclerosis i.e. diseases of the arteries. These diseases have similar causes, mechanisms, and treatments, and are thus put under one category. Cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of death globally.
Some common cardiovascular diseases are:
- Coronary artery disease
- Myocardial infraction (Heart attack)
- Chronic heart failure
- Cerebro-vascular disease
- Congenital heart disease
- Deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism
- Rheumatic heart disease
- Peripheral arterial disease
- Peripheral vascular disease
Heart attack and stroke occur due to blockages that obstruct the flow of blood to the heart and brain. One of the prime reasons of these blockages is the build-up of fatty deposits on the inner walls of the blood vessels. Other common reasons for a stroke include blood clots or bleeding blood vessels.
Common symptoms of cardiovascular diseases
There are no significant symptoms of a cardiovascular disease. An underlying cardiovascular disease is diagnosed only when the patient suffers a heart attack or a stroke. The common symptoms of a heart attack include:
- Chest pain and discomfort
- Pain and discomfort in the left shoulder. The pain extends up to the jaw or back.
- Other common symptoms that might indicate a cardiovascular disease are:
- Difficulty in breathing and breathlessness on minimal exertion
- Feeling sick and nauseated
- Experiencing palpitation and feeling light-headed
- Looking pale and breaking into a cold sweat
People detected of a cardiovascular disease usually have a history of high blood pressure, high glucose levels, high lipid levels or obesity. These are the metabolic risk factors that can lead to cardiovascular diseases.
Maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system
It has been found that cardiovascular diseases are responsible for the highest number of deaths around the world. However, the good news is that by following a certain lifestyle, the disease can be prevented. Also, the condition can be treated and even reverses by making lifestyle changes and taking appropriate medications.
Tips for a healthy heart
- Quit smoking and avoid alcohol
- Resort to meditation and yoga to overcome stress
- Stop being a couch potato; an active lifestyle plays a major role in keeping your heart healthy
- Maintain an ideal body weight
- Eat a healthy and nutritious diet
- Reduce saturated fat intake and consumption of sugary and processed food; this helps to lower LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels respectively.
- Consume maximum fruits and vegetables for increased antioxidant activity.
- Avoid foods such as red meat, dairy products, poultry and eggs.
- Supplement the body with vitamins B6 and B12 as well as folic acid helps to reduce homocysteine levels.
Several treatment options are available for various cardiovascular diseases. Drugs such as statins are prescribed for lowering cholesterol levels. It may be combined with aspirin and other drugs that lower blood pressure. A combination of these drugs is usually prescribed to patients who have survived a stroke or an attack, as it reduces the chances of another attack.
If drugs along with alteration in lifestyle fail to work, a surgery may be advised. After a complete diagnosis to determine the cause of the ailment, a surgery like balloon angioplasty, valve repair and replacement, heart transplant or artificial heart operation may be advised as per requirement.