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Heart Disease: Know The Types, Causes, and Symptoms

How to Know, You Might Have a Heart Disease

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May 5, 2022

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Heart disease is a general term for a set of heart problems. The heart is a vital organ in the body, and any illness affecting it is life-changing. There are many types of cardiovascular disease, and each one has its own symptoms and treatment. Some cardiovascular diseases are preventable, and most are manageable with proper treatment. 

Heart disease is a leading cause of death in the United States, with one in every four people dying from a heart-related illness. Let’s find out about some of the common types of heart disease, their symptoms, and how to prevent them.

Coronary Artery Disease

Coronary Artery Disease is the most common type of heart disease. It occurs from the narrowing of Coronary arteries that supply the heart. As plague forms within the arteries, they become thinner, making it more difficult for blood to flow through, known as atherosclerosis. A plague is a combination of cholesterol and other products that are no longer useful in the body. For persons with coronary heart disease, their heart does not receive the required nutrients and oxygen. The condition builds up over time, causing the weakening of heart muscles. The individual is also at a high risk of developing other complications such as arrhythmia and heart failure

What are the common symptoms of coronary artery disease?

  • Shortness of breath.
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Weakness, lightheadedness, nausea
  • Cold sweat
  • Pain in the arms or shoulder.

Congenital Heart Disease

Congenital heart disease is an inborn heart defect. There are different congenital heart defects affecting the valves, blood vessels, and heart walls. Some of these conditions are treated soon after birth leading to full recovery, while others persist for a lifetime. Congenital heart diseases are either cyanotic congenital heart disease or a cyanotic congenital heart disease depending on whether the condition affects oxygen levels. Cyanotic congenital heart diseases are associated with low oxygen levels. Acyanotic congenital diseases don’t affect oxygen levels in the individual. Some of these congenital heart abnormalities are detected during pregnancy through ultrasound.

congenital heart disease

What are the symptoms of congenital heart disease?

Some congenital heart defects are detected after birth. Their symptoms include:

  • Bluish tint in the baby’s lips, skin, toes, and fingers
  • Delayed growth
  • Low weight at birth
  • Feeding difficulties
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Chest pain

In some cases, the symptoms develop later in life, and they include:

  • Swelling
  • Fatigue
  • Fainting
  • Difficulties breathing
  • Dizziness and abnormal heart rhythms
  • Inability to exercise 
  • shortness of breath 
  • Chest pain

Heart valve disease

Four heart valves keep our blood moving the right way by opening only one way and only when needed. To work correctly, the valves must be formed, open all the way, and close tightly so there’s no leakage. Unfortunately, for persons with this condition, their valves don’t open or close properly. As a result, the condition interferes with the heart’s ability to pump blood normally.

What are the symptoms of Abnormal Heart Valves?

  • Low or high blood pressure
  • Chest pain
  • Palpitations
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness.
  • Abdominal pain due to an enlarged liver, if there is tricuspid valve malfunction
  • Shortness of breath
  • Leg swelling

Arrhythmia

Arrhythmia is a health condition whereby the victim has an irregular heartbeat. In cases of arrhythmia, the electrical activities of the heart malfunction result in a too fast heartbeat, a heartbeat that is slow or chaotic. There are three different types of arrhythmia, and they include:

  • Tachycardia- characterized by a rapid heartbeat
  • Bradycardia- characterized by a slow heartbeat
  • Atrial fibrillation- characterized by an irregular heartbeat
  • Premature contractions- the victim has an early heartbeat

In most cases, the condition is mild, lasting for a short while. However, you should always seek treatment if the problem persists as it may affect the heart resulting in life-threatening complications—victims with this condition experience a filtering or racing heartbeat.

The heart muscles of the individual become thick or stretch, and the chambers of the heart get dilated. As a result, it becomes weak and difficult to pump blood. The condition’s cause is a prior heart attack, arrhythmia, and toxins. If untreated, the condition results in arrhythmia, heart attack, and blood clots in the heart. Studies suggest that most people who suffer from the disease are between 20 and 60 years old.

Myocardial infarction

It is also known as heart attack, and it involves interrupting blood flow to the heart. The arteries supply blood to the heart spasm or block from the formation of plaque and blood clots—the blockage results in the death or weakening of heart muscles.

What are the symptoms of Myocardial Infarction?

What are the symptoms of Myocardial Infarction?

  • Chest pain, which travels from left arm to neck
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating, nausea, and vomiting
  • Abnormal heart beating
  • Anxiety, stress, and depression
  • Fatigue, weakness, and other factors

Heart Failure

Also known as Congestive Heart Failure, it is a heart condition whereby the heart is still functioning but poorly. It can result from untreated heart diseases such as coronary heart disease, arrhythmia, or high blood pressure. The condition is life-threatening and should be treated immediately. It can even be prevented by addressing other heart problems in good time.

What are the signs and symptoms of Heart Failure?

  • Shortness of breath with activity or when lying down.
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Legs, ankles, and feet swelling
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Reduced ability to exercise.
  • Swelling of the belly area
  • Persistent cough or wheezing with blood-tinged mucus

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

It is a genetic condition that affects the heart muscles. The heart muscles thicken, affecting their ability to contract. For persons with the disease, their heart does not allow blood or pump blood normally. In some cases, the condition results in obstruction.

The condition can go for a lifetime undetected. However, it can advance to other chronic heart diseases. Persons with a family history of this condition should seek screening and treatment if necessary. It is common in athletes and a leading cause of death in persons under the age of 35.

What are the symptoms of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy?

  • Chest pain
  • Fainting
  • Heart murmur, which a doctor might detect while listening to your heart.
  • A sensation of rapid, fluttering, or pounding heartbeats (palpitations)
  • Shortness of breath, especially during exercise.

Mitral valve regurgitation

The mitral valve doesn’t close well enough for persons with this condition, allowing the backflow of blood into the heart. It affects veins carrying blood from the heart, and over time, the victim’s heart becomes enlarged. The condition can result in heart failure.

What are the common signs and symptoms of Mitral valve regurgitation?

  • Sound of blood flowing across the valve 
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath, especially when lying down.
  • Palpitations
  • Swollen feet or ankles 

Mitral valve prolapse

It is another genetic heart disease affecting the valves. In this case, the mitral valves of the heart do not function properly. As a result, the valves bulge into the left atrium causing a heart murmur. For most people, the condition is not life-threatening.

What are the symptoms of mitral valve prolapse?

  • A racing or irregular heartbeat
  • Dizziness 
  • Difficulty breathing, especially during exercise or lying down.
  • Fatigue
heart disease

Aortic stenosis

Aortic stenosis is a condition whereby the pulmonary valve doesn’t function properly. The valve is thick or fused, affecting its ability to open. As a result, it becomes different for the heart to pump blood through the pulmonary artery.

The aortic valve opening is also affected, becoming too small to allow blood flow. The condition affects blood flow from the left ventricle to through the aorta. Pressure builds up within the left ventricle affecting the heart muscles. For some people, aortic stenosis is congenital, while it results from calcium deposition or scarring for others.

What are the common symptom of Aortic stenosis?

  • Chest pain or tightness.
  • Rapid fluttering heartbeat.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Dizziness or faintness.
  • Increased exhaustion after activity.
  • Swollen ankles and feet.
  • Difficulty sleeping.

What are the Causes of Heart Disease?

Heart disease develops from heart damage or subsection of the heart. It can also occur from challenges within the blood vessels leading to or away from the heart and a low supply of oxygen-rich blood to the heart. Other conditions that can lead to heart disease include:

  • High levels of stress and anxiety
  • Low activity levels
  • Preeclampsia during pregnancy
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Age
  • Choice of diet
  • High cholesterol
  • Smoking and alcohol
  • Use of illegal drugs

How to Prevent Heart disease?

Some heart diseases can be prevented. Here are some changes we can make to our lives to reduce the risk of heart disease:

  • Healthy diet. Eating a well-balanced diet with fiber, fruits, and vegetables is a part of a heart-healthy lifestyle. We should also avoid processed foods, fats, salt, and sugar. Omega 3 Fatty Acids found in fish fat helps reduce triglycerides, lower blood pressure, and reduce the buildup of plaque in the arteries.
  • Regular physical activity- Physical inactivity is a risk factor for heart disease. Regular exercise or daily activities will help strengthen the heart muscle and lowers cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity. It also helps in maintaining healthy body weight.
  • Avoid smoking – Smoking is a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases and heart conditions.
  • Alcohol is also one of the major risk factors for heart disease. It’s vital to regulate alcohol intake to the recommended levels to prevent any cardiovascular disease.
  • Management of underlying conditions will prevent the risk of heart disease. These conditions include health conditions affecting the heart, such as diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure.

In addition to the tips mentioned above, you should have routine checkups from your health care provider to monitor your heart health and address any health problems. Health professionals such as Doctors may perform physical examinations, blood tests, or other methods to check if you have problems with your heart or blood vessels. The earlier a medical condition is detected, the easier it gets to treat. Some heart conditions are easy to manage and treat. These conditions lead to other chronic illnesses becoming more difficult to manage and treat as time goes by.

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