Heart disease is one of the most common reasons for death in the United States. Fifty percent of people in America are at risk of heart disease, which is increasing continuously. Although heart disease is fatal and life-threatening, it can be prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle, taking proper medication, and controlling blood pressure.
Heart disease includes several conditions that adversely affect your heart, like coronary heart disease, heart valve disease, arrhythmias, congenital heart disease, and heart infections.
Types of heart disease
The heart is a muscular organ and supplies blood to the whole body. It doesn’t mean the heart itself requires no blood and oxygen. The heart is supplied by the coronary arteries, which fulfil its need for blood and oxygen. Most heart conditions happen due to complete or partial blockage of coronary arteries. In addition to coronary blockage, many problems fall under heart disease. Types of heart disease are:
- Arrhythmia. The abnormal fluttering of the heart due to any hindrance in the heart’s electrical system. There are two kinds of arrhythmia; tachycardia and bradycardia.
- Atherosclerosis. It is the thickening of blood vessels due to the accumulation of fat and cholesterol.
- Cardiomyopathy. This is a condition in which heart muscles become weak and stiff.
- Congenital heart defects. The abnormalities that occur in the heart during the development process lead to congenital heart defects.
- Heart infections. Any virus and bacteria can cause heart infections.
Symptoms of heart disease
There is diversity in the signs and symptoms of heart disease. Different people from different living areas, different age groups, and different lifestyles experience different symptoms. Moreover, symptoms of heart disease also depend on the type of heart disease.
Symptoms associated with coronary heart disease or atherosclerosis
As mentioned above coronary artery supplies blood to the heart, and any blockage or hindrance in the path can lead to heart attack, angina, or stroke. The fat accumulation forms the plaque, which narrows the lumen of the coronary arteries. The symptoms associated with coronary heart disease may vary between men and women. Most women have more symptoms than men.
- Chest pain and pressure on the chest
- Shortness of breath
- Pain in arm, shoulder, neck, jaw, and back
- Numbness of legs and arms
Symptoms associated with arrhythmia
Arrhythmias are abnormal heartbeats that cause your heart to beat too slow, too fast, or irregularly. The symptoms related to arrhythmia include:
- Fluttering in chest
- Fast heartbeat (tachycardia)
- Slow heartbeat (bradycardia)
- Pressure on chest
- Shortness of breath
Symptoms associated with cardiomyopathy
Cardiomyopathy does not show any early signs or symptoms, but symptoms start to appear slowly as the condition progresses.
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling of legs and feet
- Abnormal heartbeats
Symptoms associated with congenital heart disease
Sometimes, congenital heart defects recognize before or soon after birth but sometimes in childhood or early adulthood. This happens because of the late appearance of symptoms in some types of defects. Signs and symptoms include:
- Blue coloured skin at birth
- Swelling of legs
- Swelling of hands (in adults mostly)
- Shortness of breath
Symptoms associated with heart infections
The infection caused by bacteria or viruses that affects the inner lining of the heart and valves is named endocarditis because the endocardium is the inner lining of the heart. Endocarditis is the most common form of heart infection. Signs and symptoms include:
- Dry cough
- Redness of the skin
- Abnormal heart rhythms
Causes of heart disease
Every type of heart disease has some unique and some common causes. To differentiate between different types of heart disease, it is essential to know the cause of every heart disease type separately.
Causes of coronary heart disease
The most common cause of coronary heart disease is blockage of arteries due to the formation of fatty plaques in them; other causes are:
- Poor lifestyle
- Poor diet
- Lack of exercise
Causes of arrhythmia
The condition that leads to abnormal rhythms of heart are:
- Coronary heart disease
- Valvular heart disease
- Addiction to smoking and alcohol
Causes of cardiomyopathy
Cardiomyopathy is further divided into three types; dilated cardiomyopathy, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and restrictive cardiomyopathy. The causes of all the types are different and are as follows:
- Dilated cardiomyopathy. The actual cause of this type of cardiomyopathy is still unknown. This defect causes the left ventricle to increase in size due to decrease blood flow.
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. This type is congenital and mostly caused by hypertension and aging.
- Restrictive cardiomyopathy. This type of cardiomyopathy is rare and caused by collective tissue disorder or protein formation disorder.
Causes of congenital heart disease
Congenital means something related to genes and inheritance. Developmental defects cause congenital heart disease due to any hindrance in the signalling pathway or genetic defect. Congenital heart disease can also develop in adults. The heart structure can change as person ages because the defect is present in genes.
Causes of heart infection
The common causes of heart infection are:
Risk factors of heart disease
Many conditions boost the risk of developing heart disease. Some risk factors are controllable such as smoking, and some are uncontrollable such as age and gender. Some of the risk factors of heart disease are:
- Family history. If heart disease runs in your family, it considerably increases the risk of getting heart disease, especially if your parents get it early in life.
- Age and gender. Above 50, are at more risk of developing heart disease. Men are more prone to heart disease than women.
- Smoking. Cigarette has nicotine and carbon monoxide in them, damaging and narrowing the blood vessels. People who smoke double the chance of developing heart disease than a non-smoker.
- Unhealthy diet. The diet which contains a good amount of fat, salt, and cholesterol leads to life-threatening heart disease.
- Hypertension. The continuous increase in blood pressure hardens the blood vessels which then narrows the lumen. Small lumen passes less blood to the heart and causes ischemia, heart attack, and stroke.
- Blood sugar. It is essential to control the blood sugar level; otherwise it results in heart disease.
- Obesity. Overweight welcomes much worse condition and contributes to heart disease’s other risk factors.
- Anxiety and stress. Poor mental health will also contribute towards developing heart disease.
- Bad dental health. When your teeth are not clean, germs can easily enter your body and can cause infectious heart disease.
Complications of heart disease
- Heart failure. One of the most common and fatal complications of heart disease is heart failure. It happens when the heart is not able to pump sufficient blood to the body. The heart disease that contributes to heart failure is valvular heart disease, cardiomyopathy, and heart infection.
- Heart attack. It occurs when the heart is not supplied by a sufficient amount of blood, resulting in ischemia of heart muscles. Coronary heart disease or atherosclerosis causes a heart attack.
- Stroke. When the blood supply to the brain is cut off due to any blockage in arteries supplying the brain, stroke occurs. It is an emergency in which brain tissue starts to die in no time.
- Aneurysm. It is the life-threatening complication of heart disease. If an aneurysm ruptures, it results in internal bleeding, which can cause death.
- Cardiac arrest. It is the loss of heart function which is mostly sudden and caused by arrhythmia. If this condition is not managed early, it results in death.
Diagnosis of heart disease
The diagnosis includes a physical examination as the first step. The doctor examines the patience to see signs and symptoms of heart disease. Then, he asked for the family history. If your near family member has any heart disease then tell this to the doctor.
The next step in diagnosing heart disease is tests; some tests are performed before the appearance of any symptoms, and some tests are performed to confirm the underline cause of a specific symptom. The tests required in the diagnosis of any heart condition are:
- Electrocardiogram (ECG). This test records the heart’s electrical activity and helps to find any abnormality in heartbeats.
- Echocardiogram. This test used sound waves to capture a clear image of heart structure. It helps to know how the heart is pumping the blood.
- Cardiac catheterization. In this procedure, a small hollow tube is inserted into vessels going towards the heart to see any blockage and internal anomaly. This technique also measures the pressure of blood in the chambers of the heart.
- Carotid ultrasound. It is done to find any anomaly in the carotid arteries and get a detailed carotid artery image.
- Holter monitor. This device also monitors the heart’s electrical activity but for 24 to 48 hours. This gives a detailed picture of cardiac activity.
- Tilt table test. In this test patient lay down on the table and the doctor changes the position by slowly moving the patient up and down to check the change in blood pressure, saturation, and heart rate.
- Computerized tomography scan (CT scan). This procedure is done to get detailed images of your heart and cheat area.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). In this method, computer-generated radio waves are used in a magnetic field to produce the picture of the heart.
Treatment of heart disease
The treatment of heart disease depends on various factors like lifestyle, type of heart disease, the severity of disease, and associated complications. The treatment of heart disease comprises of three steps:
- Lifestyle changes
The health of heart can be improved by simple lifestyle changes. Lifestyle changes also help to treat and prevent different heart conditions. The first thing you have to change is your diet, you should eat healthy foods includes low fat, low cholesterol, rich fruits and vegetables. Moreover, regular exercise will also help in treating heart disease.
- Quite smoking. Smoking contributes a lot towards developing atherosclerosis and cause heart disease. Stop smoking can help you to treat and prevent heart disease.
- Control blood pressure. Diabetes and hypertension negatively affect your heart health and blood vessels. Regularly measuring blood pressure and controlling it can help to lower the risk of heart diseases.
- Control cholesterol. Try to avoid food that contains high cholesterol and fat content because it deposits on your arteries’ walls and blocks them. When your age becomes above twenty, regularly test your cholesterol at least after two years.
- Control blood sugar. For a diabetic person, it is essential to strictly control blood sugar levels to decrease the risk of heart diseases.
- Exercise. Physical activities help to reduce the risk factors associated with heart diseases like hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol.
- Control weight gain. Eat healthily and control your weight between a good range. Eat a diet that is low in fat and cholesterol and rich in fiber.
- Manage stress. Do the things that help relieve stress, like meditation and deep breathing. Stress is the one reason that gives rise to many health problems, along with heart diseases.
The medication for heart disease starts when you first experience the symptoms and continue for the rest of your life. Mostly the drugs used in the treatment of heart diseases are given in combination. Following are some common drugs used in the treatment of heart disease.
- Anti-coagulants. Help prevent the formation of clots in blood vessels. The drug includes heparin and warfarin.
- Antiplatelet agent. Help prevent the formation of blood clots in people with heart attack, stroke, and ischemic heart attack. Drugs include aspirin and Plavix.
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor. Helps to treat the conditions related to a cardiovascular system like hypertension and high blood glucose. Drugs include losartan and valsartan.
- Beta-blockers. Help to treat arrhythmia, lower blood pressure, and treat angina. Drugs include acebutolol and sotalol.
- Calcium channel blockers. Help to lower blood pressure and treat chest pain. Drugs include amlodipine and felodipine.
- Cholesterol controlling drugs. Helps to control the levels of cholesterol and prevent the deposition of cholesterol on walls of blood vessels. Drugs include statins and niacin.
When medication is not enough to treat certain heart diseases or if lifestyle changes are not working for a person, then surgery is necessary. Surgery also depends on the type and severity of heart disease. For example, if you have an arrhythmia that affects your daily life, then doctors recommend implanting a pacemaker on the heart.
Prevention of heart disease with home remedies
Home remedies don’t bring immediate relief but it helps to improve the heart health over the long period. As mentioned above, lifestyle changes, a healthy diet, and regular exercise will help to treat and prevent heart disease. Diet rich in fiber, fruit, and vegetables but low in fat and cholesterol is perfect for heart health. Some dietary supplement that is good for heart health are mentioned below:
- Omega 3 fatty acids. Help reduce high blood pressure and reduce the risk of developing heart arrhythmias. Omega 3 fatty acids are found in high amounts in fish, especially in salmon.
- Pomegranate juice. It is high in antioxidants and helps control the levels of cholesterol
- Capsicum. It has a wide range of benefits regarding heart diseases. It reduces the risk of developing arrhythmia, lowers blood pressure, controls blood glucose, and supports weight loss.
- Garlic. It was found helpful in dealing with heart disease. It prevents the formation of fatty plaque in the walls of arteries.
- Ginger. It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that help lower blood pressure and prevent blood clotting.
- Curcumin. Helps in increasing good cholesterol and decreasing bad cholesterol hence, prevent atherosclerosis.
- Alfalfa. It does wonders in lowering blood cholesterol levels.
How to cope up with heart disease?
Once you get any type of heart disease, you have to live the rest of your life with it. This whole time is full of frustration and unpleasant feelings. You are overwhelmed by continuous medication and treatment. At this time you need some support and counseling that can help you to improve this condition. Here are some ways that may prove beneficial for you:
Cardiac rehabilitation is very healthful in coping up with heart disease and its complication. Cardiac rehabilitation is a great program for anyone who is recovering from a heart attack, heart failure, or other heart-related conditions. A team of specialists does cardiac rehabilitation includes healthcare providers, nutritionists, physiotherapists, and counsellors. This program includes:
- Physical activity
- Proper counselling and knowledge about heart disease
- Session to improve mental health and relief stress
- Different ways to abundant smoking
Being surrounded by family and stayed interactive with friends can help you to get out of this frustration. If family and friends are not helping you or you are not comfortable with them, ask your doctor to join a support group. Talking with people in a similar situation will help you and give you the feeling that you are not alone.
If you are an old patient of heart disease and face the complication quite often, it is essential to visit the doctor regularly. It will help you in managing heart disease and save you from any awful situation.
Heart disease and hypertension
The heart disease related to high blood pressure is called hypertensive heart disease. High blood pressures make your heart pump harder, and the heart becomes large due to overwork. High blood pressure also has a worse effect on blood vessels, such as it narrow them. The extra force heart is using to pump blood with high blood pressure makes the muscles of the heart rigid. It also makes the vessels less elastic and hard.
All these scenarios prevent the good oxygenation of the blood, resulting in insufficient oxygen supply to the whole body. Hypertensive heart disease leads most people to death, so it is essential to treat it as soon as possible.
Symptoms of hypertensive heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Enlarge heart
- Fluid in lungs
- Edema of legs and feet
- Heart murmurs
Treatment of hypertensive heart disease
The best way to treat a condition is to treat its cause. In hypertensive heart disease, the treatment is based on treating high blood pressure because it is the main cause. The drugs included in the treatment of hypertensive heart disease are; diuretics, beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, and vasodilation. Some lifestyle changes will also help in lowering blood pressure like:
- Diet. It plays a great role in maintaining the level of blood pressure. You should take a diet that is low in sodium, cholesterol, and trans fat while rich in fiber and potassium. This also helps you in controlling body weight which has a direct connection with blood pressure.
- Control weight. If you are healthy, it is easy for you to control your blood sugar. You can control your weight with exercise and make your lifestyle active.
- Stop tobacco smoking
- Regularly monitor blood pressure
Can heart disease be cured?
There is no permanent solution for heart disease, but different methods and medication can be treated and controlled. When these things fail to control the condition, then your should opt for surgery. If you are experiencing the symptoms of any type of heart disease and have a family history of heart disease, then go to the check-up without delay. The earlier you diagnose the condition, the more you save yourself from complications.
The heart is the major organ of the human body and essential for the proper functioning of all other body organs. If your heart is no functioning accurately, your whole body suffers. Heart disease is divided into many types, and every type has different symptoms and causes. Once you diagnose the type of heart disease, then its proper treatment begins. Healthy lifestyle, regular exercise, and a good diet help to control and prevent heart disease. Taking care of your heart can ensure you a quality life.
STAY AWARE, STAY HEALTHY.