Cardiovascular Diseases: A Comprehensive Guide On Its Causes, Symptoms, & Treatment
by Dr. Rakesh Sarkar | Published on 06/06/2023
These days we ignore the signs our body keeps giving us, especially when it comes to diseases like cardiovascular disease. It is essential that we keep ourselves mindful of the symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, etc. Symptoms like these indicate cardiovascular problems and require prompt action.
If you are someone who is overlooking the symptoms of chest pain, dizziness, and fainting, then don’t do it, and make sure to consult one of the best cardiovascular specialists in Kolkata which is BM Birla Heart Research Center. You will find the most experienced and talented doctors here and the best treatment plan according to your health requirements.
Overview of Cardiovascular Diseases
Cardiovascular diseases are also referred to as a group of disorders affecting the heart and blood vessels. They have become one of the primary causes of death across the world, accounting for millions of deaths every year. There are various conditions linked to cardiovascular disease such as coronary artery disease, heart failure, stroke, and high blood pressure.
What are the types of cardiovascular diseases?
There are different types of cardiovascular diseases which are discussed below for enhanced comprehension:
- Coronary artery disease (CAD): It is one of the most common and significant types of cardiovascular disease. It occurs when the coronary arteries supplying blood to the heart muscle are blocked or narrowed because of plaque buildup. It causes chest pain, heart attacks, and other complications.
- Hypertension: It is also referred to as high blood pressure and is a condition in which the force of blood against the artery walls is consistently too high. It damages the arteries and increases cardiovascular problems like heart attacks, strokes, etc.
- Heart failure: In this type, the heart is unable to pump blood capably, mainly because of two reasons which are either weakened or become stiff. It causes fatigue, shortness of breath, and fluid retention, which are the reasons for certain factors like CAD, hypertension, and previous heart damage.
- Arrhythmias: It is irregular heart rhythms that occur because of abnormalities in the heart's electrical system. It causes rapid heartbeat (tachycardia), too slow (bradycardia), or irregular.
- Stroke: This type occurs when the blood supply to a part of the brain is intervened, mainly because of a blocked blood vessel or bleeding in the brain. Conditions like hypertension, atrial fibrillation, and atherosclerosis lead to an increased risk of stroke.
- Peripheral artery disease (PAD): PAD is determined by narrowed or blocked blood vessels outside the heart and brain, often affecting the legs. It leads to pain, numbness, and decreased circulation in the extremities, and in certain cases can cause tissue damage and amputation.
- Congenital heart disease: This type is known as structural abnormalities in the heart that are present at birth. It ranges from simple defects not causing relevant problems to intricate malformations needing clinical interference or surgery.
What are cardiovascular diseases symptoms?
The symptoms of cardiovascular diseases differ from person to person as some might experience them in the initial stages while some in the later stages. The most common cardiovascular diseases symptoms are:
- Chest pain
- Chest discomfort
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Dizziness or fainting
- Swelling in the legs, ankles, or feet
- Nausea and vomiting
- Cold sweats
What are the causes of cardiovascular diseases?
The causes of cardiovascular diseases completely depend on their type and the extent of the condition. Hence, here are some of the main causes leading to cardiovascular disease:
- Atherosclerosis: One of the primary causes of cardiovascular diseases is atherosclerosis. It is a condition in which plaque is accumulated inside the arteries, causing narrowing and decreased blood flow to the heart and other organs.
- Blood clots: This cause can lead to restricting the blood vessels, leading to strokes and heart attacks.
- Heart defects: There are people born with structural anomalies in their hearts that contribute to diseases like CVDs.
- Other factors: There are other factors causing the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, smoking, lack of physical activity, and unhealthy diet.
What are the risk factors for cardiovascular diseases?
Various risk factors are there which contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease. These risk factors include:
- Age: Increasing age leads to the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.
- Gender: Men are identified to be at higher risk than premenopausal females. However, the risk evens out after menopause.
- Family history: Any person who has a family history of CVDs is at risk of developing the disease and further passing it on to the coming generations.
- Ethnicity: Certain ethnic groups are considered to be at a higher predisposition to CVDs.
- Lifestyle factors: People who are indulged in unhealthy habits like smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, poor diet, and a sedentary lifestyle contribute to the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Medical conditions: There are medical conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, and chronic kidney disease that increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
How is the cardiovascular disease diagnosed?
Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are often diagnosed by combining medical history evaluation, physical assessment, and diagnostic tests. The particular diagnostic method might depend on the suspected condition and the healthcare provider's verdict. Here are some of the common methods used for cardiovascular diseases diagnosis:
- Medical History: The doctor asks about the symptoms, family history, lifestyle factors, and any pre-existing medical conditions.
- Physical Examination: A thorough physical examination is initiated which includes checking blood pressure, and heart rate, and listening to the heart and lung sounds with the use of a stethoscope.
- Blood Tests: It helps in assessing several factors linked to heart health which include cholesterol levels, triglycerides, blood sugar (glucose), and biomarkers like troponin indicating heart muscle damage.
- Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG): This test is helpful in measuring the heart’s electrical activity and identifying abnormal heart rhythms, detecting heart attack signs previously, and identifying any ongoing ischemia.
- Stress Tests: These tests are recommended for evaluating the function of a heart during physical activity. This test is a treadmill exercise stress test, where the patient is asked to walk or run on a treadmill while his/her heart activity is monitored. In certain cases, medications that stimulate the heart may be used instead of exercise.
- Echocardiogram: It is an ultrasound test and offers detailed images of the heart's structure and function. It helps in visualizing the heart's pumping ability, any heart valve abnormalities, and areas of poor blood flow.
- Cardiac Catheterization and Angiogram: This invasive procedure involves a thin tube insertion (catheter) into a blood vessel and assisting it to the heart. This test is ordered to visualize blockages or narrowings in the coronary arteries.
- Imaging Tests: Other imaging techniques, such as computed tomography (CT) scans or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), helps in assessing the structure of a heart, blood vessels, and blood flow.
What are the options for cardiovascular disease treatment?
The treatment of cardiovascular disease (CVD) entirely depends on the patient's condition and its severity. Cardiovascular treatment plans are mainly tailored to the person’s needs and comprise a combination of lifestyle modifications, medications, medical procedures, and surgical interventions. Let’s have a look at some of the common approaches linked to the treatment of cardiovascular disease:
- Lifestyle Modifications: One of the treatment options to treat CVDs is lifestyle modifications which include a healthy diet, daily exercise, smoking cessation, weight management, and stress reduction.
- Medications: Depending on the patient's condition, medications are recommended. These medications are cholesterol-lowering, antiplatelet drugs, blood pressure, beta-blockers, antiarrhythmic drugs, and diuretics.
- Medical Procedures and Interventions: When medications and lifestyle changes are not working to treat cardiovascular diseases, then surgical interventions are recommended like angioplasty and stenting, coronary artery bypass grafting, pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators, and cardiac rehabilitation.
- Other Interventions: There are other intervention methods also which might be needed for the treatment of CVDs such as heart transplantation and electrophysiology.
- Heart Transplant: In severe cases of heart failure, a heart transplant and electrophysiology procedures may be considered.
What are the tips for cardiovascular disease prevention?
There are certain tips that can prove to be useful when it comes to cardiovascular disease prevention. These tips are:
- Healthy lifestyle: Adopting a healthy diet, daily exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and quitting tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption are important steps to prevent cardiovascular diseases.
- Regular check-ups: Regular blood pressure monitoring, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar help in identifying and managing risk factors linked to cardiovascular diseases.
- Medications: Doctors might prescribe medications to control blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels depending on an individual situation and health requirements.
- Manage stress: Chronic stress can increase the risk of CVDs, hence it is relevant to identify healthy methods for managing stress and seek support if required.
In conclusion, cardiovascular disease management needs a collaborative effort between healthcare providers and patients. With the right clinical care, adherence to treatment plans, and a commitment to a heart-healthy lifestyle, it is easy to improve the quality of life, lessen the risk of complications, and strive toward a healthier cardiovascular system. If you are diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, it is vital to consult a healthcare professional at the earliest for appropriate diagnosis and treatment on time. You can reach out to one of the best cardiac healthcare services in the eastern region named BM Birla Heart Research Centre.
Is atherosclerosis a cardiovascular disease?
Yes, atherosclerosis is one of the contributing factors to the increase in the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Is cardiovascular disease genetic?
Yes, cardiovascular disease is genetic and is passed on to the next generations.
Is heart disease and cardiovascular disease the same?
Yes, all heart diseases are cardiovascular diseases.