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Cardio Vascular Disease

What is Cardio Vascular Disease (CVD)?

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a general term used to describe disorders that can affect heart (cardio) and/or body's system of blood vessels (vascular). Economic transition urbanization, industrialization and globalization bring about lifestyle changes that promote heart disease. These risk factors include tobacco use, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet. Life expectancy in developing countries is rising sharply and people are exposed to these risk factors for longer periods.

Chronic Conditions: Most cardiovascular diseases– conditions develop or persist over a long period of time.

Acute Conditions: Acute conditions are such as heart attacks and strokes that occur suddenly when a vessel supplying blood to the heart or brain becomes blocked.

The most popular CVD: Diseases that are associated with atherosclerosis. Occur more frequently in smokers who have high blood pressure, blood cholesterol (especially high LDL), who are overweight, who do not exercise, and/or who have diabetes. Public health initiatives to decrease CVD by encouraging people to:

  • Follow a healthy diet
  • Avoid smoking
  • Exercise regularly
  • If diabetic, maintain good control of blood glucose

Classifications of CVD

Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)

Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) – disease of the blood vessels supplying the heart that may lead to:

  • Angina
  • Heart attack
  • Congestive heart failure

Cerebro Vascular Disease

Disease of the blood vessels supplying the brain that may lead to:

  • Transient ischemic attacks (TIA) or "mini strokes"
  • Strokes

Peripheral Vascular Disease

Disease of blood vessels supplying the arms and legs that can lead to:

  • Claudicating – obstructed blood flow in arteries, causing pain
  • Gangrene – death of tissues in legs due to poor circulation
  • Aneurysms

Others

  • Congenital heart disease – resulting from malformation of the heart structure during development (includes some valvular diseases)
  • Valvular disease – defects in the structure or function of a heart valve; may be either congenital or acquired
  • Cardiomyopathy – weakening of the heart muscle
  • Myocarditis – inflammation or infection of the heart muscle
  • Vacuities – inflammation of blood vessels
  • Blood clots that develop in the veins (thrombosis) and that detach and go to other organs (embolism)

The World Health Organization estimates that 17.1 million people die each year from cardiovascular diseases, representing almost 30% of all global deaths. Over 80% of deaths from CVD occur in low- and middle-income countries, where there is increased exposure to risk factors and less access to preventive measures and adequate health care. As the leading cause of death worldwide, cardiovascular disease is a focus of international interest.

What is Coronary Heart Disease?

Coronary Heart Disease is a condition which affects the vessels which supply the heart's muscle with blood, oxygen and nutrients. If these blood vessels (coronary arteries) become partially blocked, a person can have decreased heart function and may experience pain in the chest, arm, neck or jaw (angina). If the vessels become completely blocked, some of the heart muscle can die, which is called a heart attack (myocardial infarction).

Blood vessels can become narrowed from fat and cholesterol build-up inside the artery walls, which is a disease known as atherosclerosis. The disease process can start when conditions, like high blood pressure (hypertension), diabetes, high cholesterol and smoking, cause damage to artery walls. The body tries to repair the damage, but in the process, fat, cholesterol, calcium and other substances can be deposited in artery walls. Over time this build-up (plaque) can narrow the artery walls and can also develop a hard fibrous cap. If this fibrous cap ruptures, a blood clot can form and completely block the blood vessel, leading to a heart attack.

In some cases, a vessel can also be blocked by a spasm in the artery. Spasms can occur and lead to heart attacks in vessels with or without atherosclerosis.

Who is at risk?

Both men and women are at risk of developing CHD, however it is not usually seen in men younger than 40 or in women of reproductive age. There are many different factors that affect the risk of CHD. Some of these risk factors cannot be altered, like family history, advanced age and sex, but there are many others that can be changed or controlled, like smoking, exercise, body weight, cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar. There are many lifestyle factors and medications that can help reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease and heart attack.

How can you prevent it?

There are many things that you can do to reduce your risk of heart disease, like:

  • Not smoking
  • Avoiding second-hand smoke (also called environmental tobacco smoke)
  • Eating well
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Exercising regularly
  • Avoiding high blood pressure
  • Treating diabetes but still have elevated risk
  • Controlling your cholesterol levels

If you already have heart disease or risk factors for it, it is important to see your doctor regularly to address lifestyle issues and medications that can help treat your condition.

Who should be screened?

For people without symptoms, there is no good screening test for CHD. If you have symptoms or risk factors, your doctor may want to do an electrocardiogram (EKG) to look at the electrical activity of your heart, or some other test to examine your heart function.

People of all ages should be screened periodically for risk factors of CHD: diabetes, high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels and overweight/obesity.

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptom of CHD is chest pain, but coronary heart disease can also be "silent" causing a heart attack or sudden death without any warning signs. The "classic" symptom of a heart attack is pain or pressure in the chest that can spread to the arm, shoulder, neck or jaw. This pain/pressure may also come with shortness of breath, sweating, nausea or lightheadedness. Some people experience abdominal pain, nausea, shortness of breath, palpitations or weakness without any chest pain. If you have any of these symptoms, see a doctor immediately.

Source: Portal Content Team



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