Signs of heart disease may vary because there are different types of heart diseases. Heart disease is a general term used to describe a variety of cardiovascular diseases and heart problems which can include:
A heart attack (the medical term for a heart attack is myocardial infarction) occurs when blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked for a long enough period for a part of the heart muscle to die or become damaged.
Symptoms of a heart attack can include:
- Heaviness, pain and strain in the heart area, chest, arm and below the breastbone
- Physical weakness
- Extreme Anxiety
- Irregular heartbeats
- Shortness of breath
A heart attack is a serious medical emergency and can be fatal. It is essential that you call 911 when you suffer from a heart attack as time is very much the essence when treating this condition.
Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary disease occurs due to atherosclerosis, which is the hardening of the arteries that provides essential nutrients and oxygen to the heart. This leads to blockages, and as a result starves the heart of the oxygen and nutrients it needs to effectively pump.
Symptoms of coronary disease can include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Physical weakness
- A faster heartbeat
Coronary artery disease is a huge killer in America, and can lead to both strokes and heart attacks. If you experience any of the above symptoms it’s essential that you visit a doctor as soon as possible to receive a diagnosis and start receiving treatment for your condition.
Abnormal heart rhythms or arrhythmias – Abnormal heart rhythms or arrhythmias can be due to any number of heart conditions that cause an irregular heartbeat. Some of these conditions are:
- Premature atrial contractions – This is when extra beats originating from the upper chambers of the heart, the atria, occur. This is usually harmless and doesn’t negatively affect your heart’ s health.
- Premature ventricular contractions – This can occur for people both with and without heart disease, and occurs when a heartbeat is “skipped.” This can happen due to caffeine, alcohol, stress, anxiety and over exercising (among other things). If this is a regular occurrence then it is something you should get checked out by your doctor, but if you only occasionally experience it is likely a benign condition that you don’t need to worry about.
- Atrial fibrillation – Atrial fibrillation is the most common type of irregular heartbeat, currently affecting around 2.2. million Americans. It involves electrical impulses generated by the sinoatrial node becoming overwhelmed by disorganized electrical impulses that typically originate from the pulmonary veins.
This results in an irregular heartbeat occurring. Atrial fibrillation is a serious condition and can lead to an increased chance of suffering from stroke. It can be clinically identified by taking a pulse, so definitely consult with your doctor if you think you may be at risk of this form of heart disease.
- Paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT) – This is a rapid heartbeat condition that usually only happens for a short period of time and for many people does not require treatment. However, if this is a persistent problem, and especially if you have any other diagnosed heart conditions you will definitely want to consult with your doctor regarding potential treatment.
- Ventricular tachycardia (V-tach) – This is a heart problem that involves a rapid heart rhythm which results in the heart being unable to adequately fill up with blood. This can be a serious problem and may be associated and linked to other heart diseases, so if you are suffering from this it is essential that you seek treatment.
- Ventricular fibrillation – This heart condition is considered a medical emergency and requires CPR to be effectively treated. It involves an erratic firing of impulses from the ventricles resulting in the ventricles quivering and being unable to pump or contract blood to the body.
- Bradyarrhythmias – Bradyarrhythmias is when slow heart rhythms occur which can be due to conditions such as sinus node dysfunction and heart block. Sinus node dysfunction is a slow heart rhythm caused by an abnormal sinus node.
Sufferers that have severe sinus nose dysfunction may be treated with a pacemaker. Heart block is when the electrical impulses that travel from the sinus node to the ventricles are blocked or delayed. This can cause the heart to beat irregularly and/or to beat more slowly, for severe cases heart block sufferers can be treated with a pacemaker.
Vascular disease is any disease or condition that affects the circulatory system. Common vascular disease types include:
- Peripheral Artery Disease – Peripheral artery disease involves fat and cholesterol deposits developing on the inside of your peripheral arteries. Overtime these deposits can cause a blockage in the arteries which can cause serious health complications such as:
- Heart Attack
- Gangrene or loss of a limb
- Renal artery disease
- Aneurysm – Aneurysms are bulges in the walls of a blood vessel that are usually either a thoracic aortic aneurysm or an abdominal aortic aneurysm. Aneurysms can be harmless but they also can lead to:
- Pain from the aneurysm pressing onto organs
- A Clot can develop
- Aneurysm rupture An aneurysm could potentially burst which can have serious health consequences, and in some cases can be life threatening.
- Blood Clots in the Veins – Blood clots can occur in the veins and may be diagnosed as deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism. Blood clots can occur due to:
- Damage to the veins from injury
- Certain surgeries
- Damage to the valves of the veins
Heart Disease Risk Factors
Symptoms of heart disease have varying different causes, but there are some risk factors that can increase chances of developing heart disease and these can include:
- High Blood Pressure – High blood pressure can lead to various heart conditions and complications. Taking active steps to lower your blood pressure can help you reduce your chance of suffering from heart disease due to high blood pressure.
- Smoking – Smoking can significantly increase an individual’s chances of developing heart disease, in fact smokers are more than twice at risk of suffering from heart disease than non smokers. Quitting smoking or never smoking in the first place can help reduce your chances of developing heart disease.
- Inactiveness – People that don’t regularly exercise are statistically more likely to develop heart disease than physically active people. If you are inactive, try exercising daily, as little as a twenty minute walk a day can help reduce your chances of developing heart disease.
- Unhealthy Diet – An unhealthy diet, especially one that is high in saturated fats and high cholesterol can dramatically increase your chances of developing heart disease. Try to eat a healthier, lower fat and cholesterol diet to maintain a healthy heart and body.
- Diabetes – If you have diabetes you may be at risk for various heart diseases, but having a firm control over your disease and properly regulating your glucose levels can help prevent heart diseases and conditions from occurring.
- Maintain a Healthy Weight – Being overweight and/or obese can hugely increase your chances of suffering from heart disease. Try to maintain a healthy weight through healthy eating and dieting to reduce your chances of heart disease and other illnesses linked to unhealthy weight such as diabetes.