47% Of Americans Have At Least 1 Of 3 Key Risk Factors For Heart Disease. Learn More About Heart Disease’s Causes And Prevention.
Types Of Heart Disease
“Heart disease” refers to several different heart conditions that fall under this category. The most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease (CAD), sometimes referred to as coronary heart disease or ischemic heart disease. Other types include congenital heart disease, hypertension heart disease, arrhythmias, and heart failure.
Coronary Artery Disease
CAD is caused by plaque buildup in the arterial walls that supply blood to the heart. This plaque consists of cholesterol and other substances that stick to the artery. Plaque buildup causes the insides of the arteries to narrow, which restricts or fully blocks blood from flowing to the heart.
Congenital Heart Disease
Congenital heart disease is caused by birth defects that affect that heart. Types of congenital heart defects include abnormal aortic valves or holes in the heart’s walls that divide the heart’s chambers. Congenital heart defects are the most common birth defect, and they can range from minor to severe.
Hypertension Heart Disease
Hypertension heart disease, also referred to as pulmonary hypertension, occurs when the pressure in the arteries that lead to the heart is too high. Many other health conditions can lead to pulmonary hypertension.
Arrhythmias refer to irregular heartbeats, including ones that are either too fast or too slow. Arrhythmias can be quite severe, leading to strokes or even death. Arrhythmias can sometimes be solved with a defibrillator, which provides an electric shock to the heart.
Heart failure occurs due to fluid buildup in other organs. This condition means that the muscle has become too weak to pump the necessary amount of blood to the rest of the body. Heart failure can be managed with medication, but the only cure is a heart transplant.
Risk Factors For Heart Disease
The three main risk factors for what causes heart disease are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking. Your age and family history can also factor into your susceptibility to heart disease, and although that can’t be controlled, these three risk factors can.
High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease. This medical condition occurs when the pressure in your arteries and blood vessels is too high. High blood pressure can affect other organs as well, including your kidneys and brain. High blood pressure is especially dangerous because it usually has no symptoms. The only way to learn if your blood pressure is too high is to measure it.
If the amount of cholesterol in your body is higher than your body can use, the cholesterol can build up in your arterial walls. This will cause your arteries to narrow and decrease blood flow to your organs, possibly leading to a CAD. High cholesterol often has no symptoms, but can be checked with a blood test called a lipid profile.
Smoking cigarettes can damage your heart and lungs, along with your blood vessels, which increases your risk for heart conditions. Nicotine also raises blood pressure, while the carbon monoxide from the smoke reduces the amount of oxygen that your blood can carry. Tobacco use increases the risk for long-term heart disease and also heart attacks.
Signs Of Heart Disease
Heart disease often goes unnoticed until you experience severe heart disease symptoms such as heart attacks, arrhythmias, or heart failure. The symptoms of a heart attack include pain in the upper back and neck, chest pain, indigestion or heartburn, nausea or vomiting, extreme fatigue or dizziness, and shortness of breath.
The symptoms of an arrhythmia are heart palpitations, which is described as a fluttering feeling in your chest. The symptoms of heart failure include shortness of breath, fatigue, and swelling in the feet, ankles, legs, or abdomen.
How To Prevent Heart Disease
The main way to prevent heart disease is to actively make healthy lifestyle choices. A simple but effective way to lower your risk for heart disease is by treating your heart to a healthy diet; this means choosing fresh fruits and vegetables over processed foods. Limiting your salt and sugar intake and avoiding foods with high levels of saturated fat helps to prevent high blood pressure and cholesterol.
Overconsumption of alcohol can also increase your blood pressure, so be sure to drink in moderation. If you currently smoke tobacco, quitting will greatly reduce your risk for heart disease. Quitting is a difficult process, but it is easier with the help of a doctor.
Maintain a healthy body mass index (BMI). Obesity increases the risk of heart disease due to extra stress on the heart and blood vessels. Regular physical activity is important for losing weight and lowering blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels.
Another great prevention method is to actively check your health conditions. This means having regular checkups to test your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Your cholesterol should be checked at least once every 4 to 6 years, while your blood pressure should be checked at least one every 2 years. If you have been previously diagnosed with either high cholesterol or high blood pressure, your levels should be tested even more frequently.
How CVG Can Help
CVG offers a variety of services that can check and treat symptoms of heart disease. At CVG, we perform stress tests that will observe blood flow and test for Atrial Fibrillation. There are three types of stress tests that we perform:
A treadmill test is a test in which you will walk on a treadmill that gets faster and steeper every 3 minutes. This will stress your heart so that our nurse or doctor can determine your EKG and blood pressure.
An echo test is performed before and after your treadmill test to determine how well your heart pumps blood.
A nuclear stress test is a treadmill test that is prefaced by an injection of medicine that shows the flow of blood to your heart.
We also offer cardiac catheterization, in which a catheter is inserted into the heart in order to take pictures and conduct tests. This procedure allows doctors to gain more information about your condition and suggest treatment options. If these tests determine a problem, we offer treatment solutions to fix several conditions. Learn more about our services here, or schedule an appointment to talk to our doctors.