Heart Disease: Unveiling Risks & Prevention

Destiny Michael
By Destiny Michael 17 Min Read

Heart Disease: Unveiling Risks & Prevention

Heart Disease: Unveiling Risks & Prevention; Heart disease stands as the primary cause of death not only in the United States but also in Nigeria and various other regions across the globe. While it remains incurable and irreversible, there are medications, procedures, and lifestyle adjustments available to alleviate numerous symptoms.

In both the United States and Nigeria, heart disease exacts a heavy toll on lives. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States and comparable health authorities elsewhere, approximately 1 in 5 deaths in 2021 were attributed to heart disease, claiming the lives of about 695,000 individuals. This stark statistic underscores the urgent need for preventive measures, medical interventions, and heightened awareness campaigns to combat this pervasive health threat on a global scale.

Heart disease affects people from all walks of life, regardless of race or ethnicity. It’s the leading cause of death among various populations, including white, Hispanic, and Black individuals. Shockingly, nearly half of the population in the United States faces the risk of heart disease, and this number continues to climb.

Although heart disease can be fatal, it’s largely preventable for most individuals. By embracing specific lifestyle changes early on, you can significantly enhance your chances of living longer with a heart that’s healthier and stronger.

What are the different types of heart disease?

Heart disease is a big category that covers lots of heart problems. Here are some types:

  • Arrhythmia: This is when your heart beats in an irregular way.
  • Atherosclerosis: This is when your arteries get clogged with plaque, making it hard for blood to flow.
  • Cardiomyopathy: This is when your heart muscles become weak or stiff.
  • Congenital heart defects: These are problems with the heart that you’re born with.
  • Coronary artery disease (CAD): This is when the blood vessels that carry blood to your heart get narrow or blocked.
  • Heart infections: These are infections that affect your heart.

Sometimes people use the term “cardiovascular disease” to talk about problems that affect the blood vessels connected to your heart.

What are the symptoms of heart disease?

Different types of heart disease can cause a variety of symptoms.

Arrhythmia

Arrhythmia is an abnormal heart rhythm. The symptoms you experience may depend on the type of arrhythmia you have, such as a heart rate that’s too fast or too slow.

Learn more about the symptoms of arrhythmia.

Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis reduces blood supply to your extremities. In addition to chest pain and shortness of breath, symptoms of atherosclerosis include fatigue and muscle weakness in the legs from poor circulation.

Learn more about the symptoms of atherosclerosis.

Congenital heart defects

Congenital heart defects are heart problems that develop when a fetus is growing. Some heart defects are never diagnosed. Others may be detected when they cause symptoms.

Learn more about the symptoms of congenital heart defects.

Coronary artery disease (CAD)

CAD is plaque buildup in the arteries that move oxygen-rich blood through the heart and lungs.

Learn more about the symptoms of CAD.

Cardiomyopathy

Cardiomyopathy is a disease that causes the heart muscles to grow larger and turn rigid, thick, or weak.

Learn more about the symptoms of cardiomyopathy.

Heart infections

Heart infections include the conditions endocarditis and myocarditis.

Read more about the signs and symptoms of heart disease.

What are the symptoms of heart disease in women?

Females often experience different signs and symptoms of heart disease than males, specifically CAD and other cardiovascular diseases.

A 2016 study Trusted Source looked at the symptoms most often seen in women who had experienced a heart attack. The top symptoms didn’t include the “classic” heart attack symptoms, such as chest pain and tingling. Instead, researchers reported that women were more likely to experience anxiety, indigestion, and fatigue.

Symptoms of heart disease in females can also be confused with other conditions, such as depression, menopause, and anxiety.

Learn more about the common signs and symptoms of heart attack in men and women.

What causes heart disease?

Heart disease is a collection of diseases and conditions that cause cardiovascular problems. Each type of heart disease is caused by something entirely unique to that condition.

Arrhythmia causes

The causes of an abnormal heart rhythm include:

  • diabetes
  • CAD
  • heart defects
  • high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • certain medications

Congenital heart defect causes

This heart disease occurs while a baby is still developing in the uterus. Some heart defects may be serious and diagnosed and treated early. Some may also go undiagnosed for many years.

Your heart’s structure can also change as you age. This can create a heart defect that may lead to complications and problems.

Cardiomyopathy causes

There are several types of cardiomyopathy. Each type is the result of a separate condition:

  • dilated cardiomyopathy (the most common Trusted Source type)
  • hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • restrictive cardiomyopathy

The causes range from other medical conditions or comorbidities or genetics. Not all the causes are fully understood.

Heart infection causes

Bacteria, parasites, and viruses are the most common causes of heart infections. Uncontrolled infections in the body can also harm the heart if they’re not properly treated.

What are some risk factors for heart disease?

There are many risk factors for heart disease. Some are controllable and others aren’t.

According to the CDC, around 47%Trusted Source of people in the United States have at least one risk factor for heart disease. Some of these risk factors include:

  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol and low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the “good” cholesterol
  • smoking
  • obesity
  • low physical activity

Smoking, for example, is a controllable risk factor. People who smoke double their chance of developing heart disease, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Trusted Source.

People with diabetes may also have a higher risk of heart disease because high blood glucose levels increase the chance of:

  • angina
  • heart attack
  • stroke
  • CAD

If you have diabetes, managing your glucose can limit your chance of developing heart disease. People with both high blood pressure and diabetes have a higher risk Trusted Source of cardiovascular disease.

Risk factors you can’t control

Other risk factors for heart disease include:

  • family history
  • ethnicity
  • sex
  • age

Although these risk factors aren’t controllable, you may be able to monitor their effects.

A family history of CAD is especially concerning if it involves Trusted Source:

  • a male relative under 55 years old
  • a female relative under 65 years old

Non-Hispanic Black people, non-Hispanic white people, and people of Asian or Pacific Islander heritage have a higher risk than Native Alaskan or Native American people.

Also, males have a greater risk of heart disease than females. According to the CDC Trusted Source, the prevalence of heart disease is higher in men than in women.

Heart Disease: Unveiling Risks & Prevention

Learn more about the risk factors for CAD.

How is heart disease diagnosed?

Your doctor may order several types of tests and evaluations to make a heart disease diagnosis. Some of these tests can be performed before you ever have symptoms of heart disease.

Other tests may be used to look for possible causes of symptoms when they develop.

Physical exams and blood tests

The first thing your doctor will do is perform a physical exam. They will take an account of the symptoms you’ve been experiencing.

Then they will want to know your family and personal medical history. Genetics can play a role in some heart diseases. If you have a close family member with heart disease, share this information with your doctor.

Blood tests are frequently ordered. This is because they can help your doctor see your cholesterol levels and look for signs of inflammation.

Noninvasive tests

A variety of noninvasive tests may be used to diagnose heart disease, such as:

  • electrocardiogram (EKG)
  • echocardiogram
  • stress test
  • carotid ultrasound
  • Holter monitor
  • tilt-table test
  • CT scan
  • heart MRI

Invasive tests

If a physical exam, blood tests, and noninvasive tests aren’t conclusive, your doctor may want to look inside your body to determine what’s causing your symptoms. Invasive tests may include:

  • cardiac catheterization
  • coronary angiography
  • electrophysiology

What treatments are available for heart disease?

Treatment for heart disease largely depends on the type of heart disease you have as well as how far it has advanced. For example, if you have a heart infection, your doctor is likely to prescribe an antibiotic.

If you have plaque buildup, your doctor may take a two-pronged approach: prescribe a medication that can help lower your risk of additional plaque buildup and look to help you adopt certain lifestyle strategies.

Treatment for heart disease falls into three main categories:

Lifestyle strategies

Some lifestyle strategies can help protect your heart. These include:

  • eating a heart-healthy diet, such as the DASH diet
  • getting regular exercise
  • quitting smoking
  • limiting alcohol consumption

Medications

A medication may be necessary to treat certain types of heart disease. Your doctor can prescribe a medication that can either cure or manage your heart disease.

Your doctor may also prescribe medications that slow or stop the risk of complications. The exact drug you’re prescribed depends on the type of heart disease you have. Examples include:

  • beta-blockers
  • blood thinners
  • calcium channel blockers
  • ACE inhibitors

Surgery or invasive procedures

In some cases of heart disease, surgery or a medical procedure is necessary to treat the condition and prevent worsening symptoms.

For example, if you have arteries that are blocked entirely or almost completely by plaque buildup, your doctor may insert a stent in your artery to return regular blood flow.

The procedure your doctor performs depends on the type of heart disease you have and the extent of damage to your heart.

How can I prevent heart disease?

Some risk factors of heart disease can’t be controlled, like your family history. But it’s still important to lower your chance of developing heart disease by decreasing the risk factors you can control.

Aim for healthy blood pressure and cholesterol numbers

Having healthy blood pressure and cholesterol ranges are some of the first steps you can take for a healthy heart. Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg).

A healthy blood pressure is considered less than 120 systolic and 80 diastolic Trusted Source, which is often expressed as “120 over 80” or “120/80 mm Hg.”

Systolic is the measurement of pressure while the heart is contracting. Diastolic is the measurement when the heart is resting. Higher numbers indicate that the heart is working too hard to pump blood.

Your ideal cholesterol level depends on your risk factors and heart health history. If you have a high risk of heart disease, have diabetes, or have already had a heart attack, your target levels will be below those of people with low or average risk.

Heart Disease: Unveiling Risks & Prevention

Adopt heart-healthy lifestyle strategies

Practicing the same lifestyle strategies that can help you manage heart disease can also help reduce your chance of developing it.

Doctors recommend 30–60 minutes of exercise Trusted Source on most days for a total of 2 hours and 30 minutes each week. Check with your doctor to make sure you can safely meet these guidelines, especially if you already have a heart condition.

Quitting smoking can help your heart health because nicotine in cigarettes causes blood vessels to constrict, making it harder for oxygenated blood to circulate. This can lead to atherosclerosis.

In addition, managing your stress can help lower your chance for heart disease because chronic stress can contribute Trusted Source to the development of heart problems.

Making these changes all at once might not be possible, and that’s OK. Talk with your doctor about what will have the biggest impact right now. Even small steps toward these goals help keep you at your healthiest.

Learn about ways to reduce the chance of heart disease.

Heart Disease: Unveiling Risks & Prevention

What’s the connection between heart disease and hypertension?

High blood pressure (hypertension) makes the heart work harder to circulate blood. This can result in a thickened heart muscle and narrowed arteries.

High blood pressure also makes your heart muscles thicker and less elastic, impairing its ability to pump blood. This reduces the circulation of the oxygen-rich blood your body needs.

Is there a cure for heart disease?

It’s not possible to cure or reverse heart disease, so it requires lifetime treatment and monitoring. But medications, procedures, and lifestyle strategies can relieve symptoms.

Coronary intervention or bypass surgery might be used if other methods aren’t effective.

Is sinus bradycardia a sign of heart disease?

Sinus bradycardia is an abnormally slow heart rate. It’s not necessarily a cause for concern on its own. In fact, it’s often a marker of a healthy heart in athletes or people who are young. But in some cases, it can cause Trusted Source serious heart problems.

What are the best exercises for a leaky heart valve?

If you have a leaky heart valve, walking regularly can be good exercise for your heart.

Do your best Trusted Source to walk at a pace in which you are breathing hard and fast but can still carry on a conversation.

You can also do other aerobic exercises, such as swimming or cycling, following the same principle.

Why are beta-blockers used in heart disease?

Beta-blockers slow and reduce the strength of your heartbeat. They also decrease your blood pressure. They work by blocking the hormone adrenaline (epinephrine) from binding to beta receptors in your body.

RELATED POST:

Share This Article
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *