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What is Heart Disease?

Any disorder of the heart is referred to as heart disease. This is sometimes also referred to as coronary artery disease. A heart attack occurs as a result of plaque development in the circulation to the heart. Heart disease is one of various cardiovascular diseases. Other cardiovascular diseases include heart failure, atrial fibrillation, stroke, high blood pressure, angina and rheumatic heart disease.

The surveys and reports suggest around 16 Million Americans have coronary artery disease. According to center of disease control (CDC), one in every four deaths in United States occurs as a result of heart disease.

Many types of heart diseases can be prevented or cured with healthy lifestyle choices.

Causes of Heart Disease

Heart disease is caused by damage to all or part of the heart, narrowing of or damage to the coronary arteries, or due to poor or no supply of nutrients and oxygen to the heart.

Some types of heart diseases are genetic and may occur before a person is born. The example of genetic heart disease includes hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

There are a number of factors that may contribute to an increased risk of heart disease. These include:

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Family history
  • Poor diet
  • Age

Any one or more of above risk factors may increase the risk of heart disease. Some of the above causes are more contributing than others, such as smoking, high blood pressure and cholesterol levels.


Signs and Symptoms of Heart Disease

The symptoms of heart disease may vary for men and women depending on which condition is affecting an individual. However, some of the most common symptoms include chest pain, breathlessness, nausea, extreme fatigue and heart palpitations. The chest pain commonly referred to as angina, occurs when a part of the heart does not receive enough oxygen. 

Stressful events or physical exertion can trigger angina which normally lasts less than 10 minutes.

Different types of heart diseases may also lead to heart attacks. The signs and symptoms of heart attack are similar to angina except that they are more severe and may occur even during rest. Other symptoms of heart attack include:

  • Pain in middle of chest going to the left arm
  • Shortness of breath
  • Faintness
  • Dizzy sensations
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Excessive sweating


Diagnosis and Risk Factors of Heart Disease

Risk Factors

Risk factors are conditions or indications that may make a person more likely to develop a disease. They can enhance the probability that the existing disease may get worse. Some important risk factors for heart disease include the following:

  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Family history of heart disease
  • Age


The tests for diagnosis of heart disease will depend on your doctor’s
recommendation about your condition. Your doctor will begin with a
physical exam followed by your personal and family history.

Some most common tests to diagnose heart disease include:

  • Electrocardiogram

    Also known as EKG may help your doctor identify irregularities in your heart’s rhythm and structure.

  • Echocardiogram

    This exam includes an ultrasound of your chest, which shows detailed images of your heart’s structure and condition..

  • Stress Test 

    This test includes increasing your heart beat rate normally through exercising or medicine to see how your heart rate responds.

  • Holter Monitoring

    This is an extension to the EKG with continuous recording of EKG usually for 24 to 72 hours to detect heart rhythm irregularities that are not normally found in normal EKG exam.

  • Cardiac Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan

    In cardiac CT scan, the images of your heart and chest are collected through an X-ray tube that rotates inside of a machine.

  • Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

    In this test, you lie in tube like machine that emits magnetic fields. The magnetic field produces pictures to help your doctor
    examine your heat’s condition.


Treatment Options for Heart Disease

The heart disease may be treated in two ways. One way could be to cure the heart disease through medications. If the desired results are not achieved, percutaneous coronary intervention options are available to restore and improve bloodflow. These treatments options are detailed below.

  • Lifestyle Changes

    Lifestyle changes play a very vital role in heart disease prevention and may include the following.

    • Quitting smoking and limiting alcohol intake

    • Regular exercise at least 5 days a week

    • Managing cholesterol through balanced fat intake

  • Medications

    Your doctor may suggest medications to control your heart disease in addition to lifestyle changes. These medications will vary according to the type and severity of heart disease.

  • Procedures to restore and improve bloodflow 

    More aggressive treatment is sometimes needed to open blockages for heart related problems for which medications couldn’t stand effective. Percutaneous coronary intervention is normally suggested in the advanced stages of heart disease.

    Most common treatments include 

    • Angioplasty and stent placement - A balloon catheter is inserted to widen congested arteries to allow blood flow to the heart while a stent is left in the artery to keep the artery open. heart.

    • Bypass Surgery - A graft is created to bypass the blocked coronary arteries using a vessel from another part of the body.

    • Other options may include surgery to replace the defected or dead heart valves.



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