What Is Heart Disease?
CVD describes a range of conditions that affect your heart. Diseases under the heart disease umbrella include blood vessel diseases, such as coronary artery disease; heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias); and heart defects you’re born with (congenital heart defects), among others.
Coronary heart disease
Also known as ischaemic heart disease, this is the most common form of heart disease in Australia. The two major forms of coronary heart disease are heart attack (also known as acute myocardial infarction) and angina.
- A heart attack is caused when blood supply to the heart is blocked completely, often causing damage to the heart muscle and its function.
- Angina is a chronic condition where short episodes of chest pain occur periodically, caused by a temporary shortage of blood supply to the heart. Angina is not usually life-threatening but can be associated with increased risk of heart attack.
Heart failure & cardiomyopathy
Heart failure is a life-threatening condition that occurs when the heart is unable to maintain a strong enough blood flow to meet the body’s needs. It usually develops over many years, although it can also occur more suddenly. Heart failure can result in chronic tiredness, reduced ability for physical activity and shortness of breath. Cardiomyopathy occurs when the heart muscle becomes thickened, enlarged or stiff which can reduce the effectiveness of the heart. Cardiomyopathy and heart failure commonly occur together.
Congenital heart disease
A broad term for any defect of the heart or central blood vessels that is present from birth. It can include abnormalities of the heart or heart valves, such as a hole between chambers of the heart, or narrowing of major blood vessels, or combinations of disorders.
What Are The Risks Factors for Cardiovascular?
Major risk factors associated with CVD that cannot be modified include advancing age, genetic predisposition, gender and ethnicity. Modifiable risk factors include behavioural factors such as tobacco smoking, insufficient physical activity, poor diet and excessive alcohol consumption. Biomedical factors also play a major role, such as high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and overweight and obesity.
A number of these risk factors are shared with other chronic diseases, such as diabetes and chronic kidney disease. The interactions between these chronic conditions are complex and not well understood, however it is known that diabetes greatly increases the risk of CVD. People with diabetes have twice the risk of developing CVD as the general population. The prevalence rate of stroke can be up to five times greater, and prevalence of heart attack up to ten times greater, for people with diabetes than for those without diabetes.
Heart disease symptoms depend on what type of heart disease you have and symptoms may be different for men and women.
For instance, men are more likely to have chest pain; women are more likely to have other symptoms along with chest discomfort, such as shortness of breath, nausea and extreme fatigue.
Symptoms can include:
- Chest pain, chest tightness, chest pressure and chest discomfort (angina)
- 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
You might not be diagnosed with cardiovascular disease until you have a heart attack, angina, stroke or heart failure. It’s important to watch for cardiovascular symptoms and discuss concerns with your doctor. Cardiovascular disease can sometimes be found early with regular evaluations.
Treatment or Management of Cardiovascular Disease
For many people, a key step in managing cardiovascular disease involves addressing the modifiable risk factors discussed above. Additionally, there are a range of medicines and surgical treatments available for cardiovascular diseases. For example, depending upon the severity of the condition, coronary heart disease can be managed with medications such as aspirin, or treated through coronary artery bypass graft surgery.
By improving your lifestyle, including your diet and level of fitness, you can minimise your risk of getting cardiovascular disease. Even if you have two or more risk factors, you can still make changes that will reduce your chances of developing heart problems.
How Can We Help?
Heart disease is easier to treat when detected early, If you’re concerned about developing heart disease, make an appointment with one of our doctors at Elm Rd. Warriewood and they will discuss the steps you can take to reduce your heart disease risk. This is especially important if you have a family history of heart disease.
Please make an appointment today.