Heart Disease Prevention

For The Young

Big image

About Heart Disease

Heart disease describes a range of conditions that affect your heart. The term "heart disease" is often used interchangeably with the term "cardiovascular disease." Cardiovascular disease generally refers to conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack, chest pain or stroke.

Symptoms

Cardiovascular disease is caused by narrowed, blocked or stiffened blood vessels that prevent your heart, brain or other parts of your body from receiving enough blood. Cardiovascular disease symptoms may be different for men and women. For instance, men are more likely to have chest pain; women are more likely to have symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea and extreme fatigue.


Symptoms Are Such As:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain, numbness, weakness or coldness in your legs or arms if the blood vessels in those parts of your body are narrowed
  • Pain in the neck, jaw, throat, upper abdomen or back

Heart arrhythmia symptoms can include:

  • Fluttering in your chest
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Slow heartbeat
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Light headedness
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting or near fainting

Signs and symptoms of congenital heart defects include:

  • Easily getting short of breath during exercise or activity
  • Easily tiring during exercise or activity
  • Swelling in the hands, ankles or feet
Go Red For Women ™ presents: 'Just a Little Heart Attack'

Causes

Your heart is a pump. It's a muscular organ about the size of your fist, situated slightly left of center in your chest. Your heart is divided into the right and the left side. The division protects oxygen-rich blood from mixing with oxygen-poor blood. Oxygen-poor blood returns to the heart after circulating through your body.


Four valves within your heart keep your blood moving the right way by opening only one way and only when they need to. To function properly, the valve must be formed properly, must open all the way and most close tightly so there's no leakage.


While cardiovascular disease can refer to different heart or blood vessel problems, the term is often used to mean damage to your heart or blood vessels by atherosclerosis, a buildup of fatty plaques in your arteries. Plaque buildup thickens and stiffens artery walls, which can inhibit blood flow through your arteries to your organs and tissues. Atherosclerosis is also the most common cause of cardiovascular disease. It can be caused by correctable problems, such as an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, being overweight and smoking.


In a healthy person with a normal, healthy heart, it's unlikely for a fatal arrhythmia to develop without some outside trigger, such as an electrical shock or the use of illegal drugs. That's primarily because a healthy person's heart is free from any abnormal conditions that cause an arrhythmia, such as an area of scarred tissue.

However, in a heart that's diseased or deformed, the heart's electrical impulses may not properly start or travel through the heart, making arrhythmia more likely to develop.

Heart defects usually develop while a baby is in the womb. Heart defects can develop as the heart develops, about a month after conception, changing the flow of blood in the heart. Some medical conditions, medications and genes may play a role in causing heart defects. Heart defects can also develop in adults. As you age, your heart's structure can change, causing a heart defect.

Risk Factors

  • Age. Aging increases your risk of damaged and narrowed arteries and weakened or thickened heart muscle.
  • Sex. Men are generally at greater risk of heart disease. However, women's risk increases after menopause.
  • Family history. A family history of heart disease increases your risk of coronary artery disease, especially if a parent developed it at an early age.
  • Smoking. Nicotine constricts your blood vessels, and carbon monoxide can damage their inner lining, making them more susceptible to atherosclerosis. Heart attacks are more common in smokers than in nonsmokers.
  • Poor diet. A diet that's high in fat, salt, sugar and cholesterol can contribute to the development of heart disease.
  • High blood pressure. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can result in hardening and thickening of your arteries, narrowing the vessels through which blood flows.
  • High blood cholesterol levels. High levels of cholesterol in your blood can increase the risk of formation of plaques and atherosclerosis.
  • Diabetes. Diabetes increases your risk of heart disease. Both conditions share similar risk factors, such as obesity and high blood pressure.
  • Obesity. Excess weight typically worsens other risk factors.
  • Physical inactivity. Lack of exercise also is associated with many forms of heart disease and some of its other risk factors, as well.
  • Stress. Unrelieved stress may damage your arteries and worsen other risk factors for heart disease.
  • Poor hygiene. Not regularly washing your hands and not establishing other habits that can help prevent viral or bacterial infections can put you at risk of heart infections, especially if you already have an underlying heart condition. Poor dental health also may contribute to heart disease.

Complications

  • Heart failure. One of the most common complications of heart disease, heart failure occurs when your heart can't pump enough blood to meet your body's needs. Heart failure can result from many forms of heart disease, including heart defects, cardiovascular disease, valvular heart disease, heart infections or cardiopulmonary.
  • Heart attack. A blood clot blocking the blood flow through a blood vessel that feeds the heart causes a heart attack, possibly damaging or destroying a part of the heart muscle. Atherosclerosis can cause a heart attack.
  • Stroke. The risk factors that lead to cardiovascular disease also can lead to an ischemic stroke, which happens when the arteries to your brain are narrowed or blocked so that too little blood reaches your brain. A stroke is a medical emergency brain tissue begins to die within just a few minutes of a stroke.
  • Aneurysm. A serious complication that can occur anywhere in your body, an aneurysm is a bulge in the wall of your artery. If an aneurysm bursts, you may face life-threatening internal bleeding.
  • Peripheral artery disease. Atherosclerosis also can lead to peripheral artery disease. When you develop peripheral artery disease, your extremities usually your legs don't receive enough blood flow. This causes symptoms, most notably leg pain when walking.
  • Sudden cardiac arrest. Sudden cardiac arrest is the sudden, unexpected loss of heart function, breathing and consciousness, often caused by an arrhythmia. Sudden cardiac arrest is a medical emergency. If not treated immediately, it is fatal, resulting in sudden cardiac death.

Prevention

Certain types of heart disease, such as heart defects, can't be prevented. However, you can help prevent many other types of heart disease by making the same lifestyle changes that can improve your heart disease, such as:

  • Quit smoking
  • Control other health conditions, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes
  • Exercise at least 30 minutes a day on most days of the week
  • Eat a diet that's low in salt and saturated fat
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Reduce and manage stress
  • Practice good hygiene

Treaments

Heart disease treatments vary by condition.

  • Life Style Changes
  • Medication
  • Medical Procedures or Surgery