Cardiovascular Disease: Symptoms, Causes, Types, Treatment & Diagnosis

Written By: Dr Brajesh Mittal

Dr. Brajesh Mittal is an interventional cardiology specialist in Dubai. He has completed his MD from the University of Rajasthan in India, 

Updated On:May 13, 2024

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What is Cardiovascular Disease? 

Heart and blood vessel illnesses are collectively referred to as cardiovascular diseases. These conditions may impact on single or multiple areas of your heart and/or blood vessels. A person may have symptoms (physical manifestations of the disease) or be asymptomatic (complete lack of symptoms).

Heart or blood vessel conditions that are categorized as cardiovascular disease include:

  • Narrowing of the blood vesselsveins in your body's various organs, including your heart

  • Birth defects that affect the heart and blood vessels

  • Heart valves that are notn't functioning properly

  • Abnormal or irregular heart rhythmscardiac beats

 

Types of Cardiovascular Diseases

Cardiovascular diseases come in a wide variety, including but not restricted to:

  • An irregular heart rhythm or heart rate can result from an arrhythmia, a problem with your heart's electrical conduction system.

  • Heart valve illness disease refers to tightening or leakage in the valves, which allow blood to move from one heart chamber to another.

  • Coronary artery disease: Narrowing of the blood vessels An issue with the blood vessels that supply your heart., such as blockages.

  • Heart failure: Problems with the heart's pumping and relaxing mechanisms cause fluid retention and breathlessness.

  • A problem with the blood vessels in your arms, legs, or abdominal organs, such as narrowing or blockages, is known as peripheral artery disease.

  • Aortic illness can cause aortic dilatation or aneurysm.

  • Multiple heart regions are affected by congenital heart disease, which is present from birth.

  • Problems with your heart's lining, such as pericarditis and pericardial effusion, are referred to as pericardial illness.

  • Brain blood flow issues, such as blockages or vessel narrowing, are referred to as cerebrovascular illness.

  • A blockage in the veins that return blood from the body and brain to the heart is known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Causes of Cardiovascular Disease

There are numerous causes of cardiovascular diseases, depending on the type. Here are a few examples: Fatty plaques in the arteries cause coronary artery disease, concerns problems with  the fetalus’s heart development cause congenital heart disease, bacteria and viruses cause heart infection, and rheumatic fever causes heart valve diseases. 

Symptoms of Cardiovascular Disease

Depending on the reason, theThe symptoms of cardiovascular disease can changemay vary depending on the cause. Women and older people may experience subtler atypical symptoms. Nevertheless, they are still susceptible to severe  cardiovascular disease.

When to see a doctor for Cardiovascular Disease? 

When cardiovascular illness is discovered early, it is frequently easier to treat. It's crucial to visit your primary care physician once a year for this reason. They are able to identify cardiovascular problems before symptoms appear. If you see any cardiovascular disease symptoms, you should contact your doctor. right once.

If you encounter any of the following suddenly:

  • Backache 

  • Discomfort or agony in the chest, especially when exerting oneself

  • Severe difficulty breathing, especially if it's new or getting worse

  • Stumbling (fainting)

  • Your arms or legs may be in pain or numb

 

Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors

If you have one or more of the risk factors below, you could be more prone to developing cardiovascular disease:

  • Absence of exercise

  • Alcoholism in excess

  • Being overweight or obese

  • Chronic autoimmune or inflammatory diseases

  • Chronic kidney disease

  • Diabetes type 2

  • Heart disease in the family history

  • High-sodium, high-sugar, and high-fat diet

  • Hyperlipidemia, or high cholesterol

  • Hypertension is a term for high blood pressure

  • Pregnancy diabetes

  • Toxemia or preeclampsia

  • Use of illegal or prescription drugs

  • Use of tobacco, including vaping

Cardiovascular Disease Complications

Complications of heart disease may include the following: 

  • Heart failure
  • Heart attack 
  • Stroke 
  • Aneurysm 
  • Peripheral artery disease
  • Sudden cardiac arrest 

 Cardiovascular Disease Diagnosis

Your healthcare professional will conduct a physical examination and inquire about your symptoms, individual health, and family medical history. They could also request testing to identify cardiovascular illness.

Typical examinations used to identify cardiovascular disease include:

  • Blood tests to evaluate elements including cholesterol, blood sugar levels, and certain proteins that signify cardiovascular health. 
  • To identify peripheral artery disease, the ankle-brachial index (ABI) analyzes the blood pressure in your ankles and arms.
  • The electrical activity of your heart is captured by an electrocardiogram (EKG).
  • Wearable gadgets are used in ambulatory monitoring to monitor your heart rate and rhythm.
  • Sound waves are used in an echocardiogram to provide an image of your heartbeat and blood flow.
  • Sound waves are used in ultrasound to examine the blood flow in your neck or legs.
  • X-rays and computer processing are used in cardiac computed tomography (CT) to produce 3D images of your heart and blood arteries.
  • Magnets and radio waves are used in cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to provide detailed images of the heart.
  • MR angiograms and CT angiograms, which employ an MRI or CT, respectively, to view your neck, head, and leg blood arteries.
  • Stress tests examine how your heart reacts to physical exertion in a safe environment while you exercise or take drugs. EKGs and/or imaging tests may be used in this kind of test.
  • A catheter (a thin, hollow tube) is used during cardiac catheterization to assess your heart's blood flow and pressure.

Cardiovascular Disease Treatment

Treatment for heart disease is based on the type and cause of heart damage. Healthy lifestyle practices, including quitting smoking, exercising frequently, getting enough sleep, and eating a low-fat, low-sodium diet, are crucial components of treatment.

  • Medications: Medication may be required to control heart disease symptoms and to avoid complications if lifestyle modifications alone are ineffective. The kind of cardiac condition is what determines the medicine's kind.

  • Surgery: Some heart disease sufferers might require treatment or surgery. The type of heart illness and the degree of cardiac damage will determine the sort of operation or surgery.

  • Cardiac Rehabilitation: To assist your heart get stronger, you might need to start an exercise program under supervision.

  • In the absence of medications, treatments, or surgeries, you could need ongoing, careful observation.

  • Changing your diet, getting more exercise, and giving up smoking or using tobacco products altogether are some examples of lifestyle improvements.

Cardiovascular Disease Prevention 

By changing some aspects of one's lifestyle, heart disease can be lessened or even prevented. To enhance heart health, the following adjustments are suggested:

  • Consume nutritious foods

  • Control blood pressure

  • Control diabetes 

  • Exercise 

  • Maintain a healthy weight 

  • Manage stress 

  • Practice good hygiene 

  • Practice good sleeping habits 

  • Stop smoking 

  • Test your cholesterol

References 

Alves, A. J., Viana, J. L., Cavalcante, S. L., Oliveira, N. L., Duarte, J. A., Mota, J., ... & Ribeiro, F. (2016). Physical activity in primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease: Overview updated. World journal of cardiology, 8(10), 575.

Cosselman, K. E., Navas-Acien, A., & Kaufman, J. D. (2015). Environmental factors in cardiovascular disease. Nature Reviews Cardiology, 12(11), 627-642.

Gaziano, T., Reddy, K. S., Paccaud, F., Horton, S., & Chaturvedi, V. (2006). Cardiovascular disease. Disease Control Priorities in Developing Countries. 2nd edition.

Laslett, L. J., Alagona, P., Clark, B. A., Drozda, J. P., Saldivar, F., Wilson, S. R., ... & Hart, M. (2012). The worldwide environment of cardiovascular disease: prevalence, diagnosis, therapy, and policy issues: a report from the American College of Cardiology. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 60(25S), S1-S49.

Nabel, E. G. (2003). Cardiovascular disease. New England Journal of Medicine, 349(1), 60-72.

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