Chest pain and breath shortness are one of the critical symptoms that indicate cardiovascular diseases – problems of the heart. Cardiovascular diseases affect the functioning of the heart and blood vessels and essentially occur because of build-up plaque that clogs the arteries. These arteries known as coronary arteries are responsible for supplying blood, oxygen and essential nutrients to all other organs of the body. Due to build-up of fatty material within the walls of the arteries, the arteries tend to become blocked or narrowed which can lead to blood clots and restricts the flow of blood, oxygen and essential nutrients, causing severe symptoms and cardiovascular diseases. Two of the most common symptoms of cardiovascular diseases are acute chest pain and shortness of breath. Cardiovascular diseases are a very common cause of death and disability in the world but can be easily managed and treated provided the symptoms are detected early on, and adequate treatment is opted for. Moreover, a healthy preventive lifestyle goes a long way in preventing cardiovascular diseases.
Types of Cardiovascular Diseases
- Coronary Heart Diseases: These problems pertain to the blood vessels supplying blood to the heart muscle
- Cerebrovascular Diseases: These problems affect the blood vessels supplying blood and oxygen to the brain.
- Peripheral Arterial Disease: Such diseases hamper the blood vessels providing blood and oxygen to the arms and legs.
- Rheumatic Heart Disease: These problems are caused because of damage to the muscles and blood vessels caused by rheumatic fever – a condition that is caused because of inadequate treatment of strep throat or scarlet fever.
- Congenital Heart Disease: These problems are caused because of malformation of the heart structure at birth
- Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism: These problems occur when blood clots in the veins of the legs, travel to the heart or lungs.
Cardiovascular disease if not diagnosed and treated within a reasonable time can lead to heart attack, heart failure and death.
Symptoms of Cardiovascular Diseases
Symptoms of cardiovascular diseases depend on case-to-case; however, some general symptoms that should be looked out for are:
- Chest pain
- Chest tightness and discomfort (angina)
- Acute pain or discomfort in arms, left shoulder, elbows, jaws, or back
- Breath shortness
- Dizziness or loss of conscious
- Excessive cold sweating
- Weak or cold legs and arms
Risk Factors of Cardiovascular Diseases
Certain factors and habits put certain people at more risk of contracting cardiovascular diseases as compared to others. Such risk factors include:
- High blood pressure
- Exposure to radiation
- Excessive alcohol
- Drug abuse
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Sleep apnea
- High cholesterol
- Unhealthy diet
- Exposure to chemicals, toxins and pollutants
- Chronic lung problem
- Increasing age
- Family history
Treatment of Cardiovascular Diseases
Cardiovascular diseases can be easily be treated and complications can be prevented provided symptoms are diagnosed early on and adequate medical treatment is received. However, the best treatment course will depend on the type of disease. Some general treatment options for cardiovascular problems are:
- Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) – improves the blood flow to the heart by redirecting the blood flow to the narrowed or blocked arteries by using blood vessels from other areas such as the leg veins, arm or chest and connecting the healthy blood vessels with those that are beyond the blocked vessels to create a bypass for the affected artery, enabling it to receive fresh blood and oxygen.
- Valve repair or replacement
- Correcting arrhythmia or abnormal heart rhythms
- Counselling and lifestyle changes
The treatment aims to ease symptoms, reduce risks, as well as prevent any further damage and complications.
Prevention of Cardiovascular Diseases
Cardiovascular diseases can be prevented by observing certain lifestyle habits and routines, such as:
Maintaining healthy body weight: People with excessive body fat are more likely to develop cardiovascular problems. Excessive body fat increases chances of health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc. – all of which are strong triggers of cardiovascular problems. Hence, it is necessary to maintain and ideal/healthy body weight.
Improve physical activity: At least 30 minutes of daily physical exercise in any form should be undertaken to prevent cardiovascular problems and ensure a healthy heart by minimising chances of a build-up of plaque.
Eat healthy: A diet rich in fat, carbs, excessive oil, sodium, trans fat, saturated fats, sugar, etc. is extremely unhealthy and increase the risk of cardiovascular issues. Foods those are rich in protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals should be consumed, such as green leafy vegetables, whole grains, fish, nuts, dry fruits, etc.
Avoid Smoking: Smoking damages the lining of the arteries promoting the build-up of fat that ultimately narrows or blocks the arteries causing restricted blood and oxygen supply. Hence, to prevent cardiovascular diseases, one should quit smoking and even passive smoking.
Limit alcohol intake: Alcohol consumption beyond a limit can trigger high blood pressure, cardiomyopathy, stroke, irregular heartbeats, etc.
Reduce Stress: Stress needs to be managed to keep heart issues in check. It increases the heart rate and also increases the blood pressure, causing a lot of damage to the arteries. Practice yoga, meditation or increase involvement in hobbies to reduce overall stress.
Get regular health check-ups: Regular health check-up goes a long way in preventing cardiovascular problems. They ensure the heart’s health by examining the level of blood glucose, cholesterol, blood pressure, heart rate, body mass index and more. If the tests show a variation from the normal range, preventive medical care and lifestyle changes can ensure the values return to normalcy.
However, sometimes cardiovascular problems may happen to be detected too late, making treatment complicated; however, if symptoms such as chest pain and shortness of breath, etc. are paid attention to, and cardiovascular problems are diagnosed early on – a lot of lives can be saved.