Let me tell you a story about Cardiovascular Disease: Types, Causes, Symptoms, and Prevention…
Let’s Start At The Very Beginning:
Cardiovascular Disease is the broad term used to describe conditions that involve the blood vessels, the heart, or both.
The cardiovascular system is made up of the heart, arteries, veins, and capillaries. Also known as the circulatory system, its function is to move blood through your body.
This is an overview of the wide range of cardiovascular disease types, their common symptoms, and the most effective treatments.
Types of Cardiovascular Diseases (to learn more about each individual type, click on the links provided).
Cardiac (heart-related) diseases include:
- Angina – considered as both a cardiac and vascular (blood vessels) disease.
- Arrhythmia – problems with the heartbeat, irregular heartbeat, or heart rhythm.
- Congenital Heart Disease – problem with heart function or structure present at birth.
- Coronary artery disease (CAD) – problem due to the arteries that feed the heart muscle being diseased.
- Dilated cardiomyopathy
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
- Mitral valve regurgitation
- Mitral valve prolapse
- Pulmonary stenosis
- Rheumatic Heart Disease
- Rhythm disorders such as atrial fibrillation
Vascular diseases (diseases that affect the blood vessels – arteries, veins, or capillaries) include:
- Peripheral artery (arterial) disease
- Renal artery disease
- Raynaud’s disease (Raynaud’s phenomenon)
- Buerger’s disease
- Peripheral venous disease
- Stroke – known as a type of cerebrovascular disease
- Venous blood clots
- Blood clotting disorders
Causes (Risk Factors)
As reported in the Journal of The American Medical Association (JAMA), The lifetime risk for cardiovascular disease is more than 50 percent for both men and women.
They added that even among those with few or no cardiovascular risk factors, the risk is still more than 30 percent.
Risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease include:
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Lack of sleep (Yes!)
- High blood cholesterol (hyperlipidemia)
- Diets that are high in fat combined with carbohydrates
- Physical inactivity
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Air pollution
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder) and reduced lung function
- Radiation therapy
People with one cardiovascular risk factor often have one or two others, as well. For example, obese persons often have high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and diabetes type 2.
Experts agree, however, that the most common risk factors for cardiovascular disease are atherosclerosis (a disease of the arteries distinguished by the deposit of of fatty material on their inner walls, and high blood pressure (hypertension).
Overall, symptoms vary and are specific to the individual depending on the type of disease a patient has.
The “typical” symptoms of an underlying cardiovascular issue include:
- Pain or pressure in the chest.
This may point to angina, which is severe pain in the chest, often spreading to the shoulders, arms, and neck, caused by an inadequate blood supply to the heart.
- Pain or discomfort in the arms, the left shoulder, elbows, jaw, or back
- Shortness of breath (also known as dyspnea)
- Nausea and *fatigue
*Fatigue (also referred to as tiredness, exhaustion, lethargy, and listlessness) describes a physical and/or mental state of being tired and weak.
- Light-headedness or near-fainting or fainting
- Cold sweat
The blunt truth is that the majority of Cardiovascular Diseases are preventable.
It’s important for you to evaluate and address your risks by:
- Quitting smoking. Smoking is a significant risk factor. Quitting can also help reduce the risk of many other conditions.
- Consuming less alcohol and tobacco
- Eating more fresh fruits and vegetables
- Reducing your salt intake
- Avoiding sedentary lifestyles (couch potato syndrome), particularly among children**
**Bad habits during childhood will not lead to cardiovascular disease while the child is still young; but they can lead to the accumulation of problems that continue into adulthood, resulting in a greater probability of having a cardiovascular disease later in life.
- Children who eat a lot of salt have a much higher risk of hypertension when they are adults, as well as heart disease and stroke.
- Parents should also keep a close eye on how much saturated fat and sugar a child consumes.
Most Common Question
Does aspirin protect from cardiovascular disease?
Well…that’s debatable. Aspirin is generally used to treat minor pains, to reduce fever and reduce inflammation. However, it has become popular for the prevention of blood clots.
- High-risk patients take it in low doses (typically 81 mg/day) to prevent strokes and heart attacks.
However, a serious problem caused by aspirin therapy for patients at risk of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular events is major bleeding.
This may present a problem for Type 2 diabetics, who normally have a higher rate of bleeding, regardless of their therapeutic aspirin status.
The Bottom Line
Cardiovascular disease statistics:
- According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of deaths globally – more people die from Cardiovascular Diseases than from anything else.
In 2015, approximately 17.7 million people died from these diseases worldwide; just under one third (31 percent) of all registered premature deaths.
Of these deaths:
- 7.4 million died from coronary heart disease
- 6.7 million from stroke
The majority (greater than 75 percent) of Cardiovascular Disease deaths occur in low and middle-income countries.
- Cardiovascular Diseases occur equally in men and women, and it is estimated that by 2030 23.6 million people will die from them each year. Most will be due to heart disease or strokes.
- For women in the United States, Cardiovascular Disease is the leading cause of death. In 2013, there were 289,758 deaths. That’s one in every four female deaths.
The bottom line (and there’s always a bottom line) is that Cardiovascular Disease is a SERIOUS problem, globally.
Right next to the bottom line, however, is that it’s within your power to prevent it (all heredity issues aside) by adopting a healthy lifestyle.
Don’t make it harder to stay healthy than it is.
With relatively simple changes it is possible for you to reduce the impact of Cardiovascular Disease, along with many other health issues, for yourselves and your families.