Heart Disease

What is Heart Disease?

Heart disease describes a range of heart-affecting conditions. Blood vessel diseases, heart rhythm problems, and heart defects with which you are born with are included in the heart disease category.

The term “heart disease” is often used interchangeably with the term “heart disease.” Cardiovascular disease generally refers to conditions involving narrowed or blocked blood vessels that may result in heart attack, chest pain or stroke. Other conditions of the heart, such as those affecting the muscle, valves or rhythm of your heart, are also considered forms of heart disease.

Symptoms of cardiovascular disease may vary for men and women. For example, men are more likely to experience chest pain, women are more likely to experience other symptoms along with chest discomfort, such as shortness of breath, nausea, and extreme fatigue.

Symptoms of heart disease.

Until you have a heart attack, angina, stroke or heart failure, you may not be diagnosed with cardiovascular disease. Watching for cardiovascular symptoms and discussing issues with your doctor are important. With regular assessments, cardiovascular disease can sometimes be found early.

A heart arrhythmia is an abnormal heartbeat. Some heart arrhythmia symptoms are:

Heart disease symptoms caused by weak heart muscle

In early stages of cardiomyopathy, you may have no symptoms, As the condition worsens, some of the symptoms may include:

Heart disease symptoms caused by heart infections

Endocarditis is an infection that affects the inner membrane that separates the chambers and valves of the heart

Some heart infection symptoms can include:

Heart disease symptoms caused by valvular heart disease

The heart has four valves. The aortic, mitral, pulmonary, and tricuspid valves. These valves allow blood to flow through your heart by opening and closing to direct blood. Valves may be damaged by a variety of conditions resulting in narrowing, leaking or improper closure .

Depending on which valve isn’t working properly, valvular heart disease symptoms generally include:

How Age and Weight affect Your Heart

In both men and women, the number of people affected by heart disease increases with age. About four out of five people are 65 or older who die from coronary heart disease.

Because heart disease becomes more common as you age, regular check-ups and monitoring of risk factors for your heart are important. Your doctor will work with you to help you reduce your heart disease risk. Weight loss and a healthy diet are critical to preventing heart disease and related symptoms. The heavier a person is, the more they are asking their heart to work. Shortness of breath and other related symptoms can be a sign that weight and overall fitness are becoming topics that need to be addressed.

What Happens As You Get Older

As you age, so does your blood vessels. They become less flexible, making it more difficult for blood to move easily through them. Fatty deposits called plaques also collect along the walls of your artery and slow down the heart’s blood flow. These things can increase your risk of heart disease along with poor nutrition and exercise habits. Add other risk factors like high blood pressure, smoking, and diabetes and you’re likely to have a higher risk of a heart attack.

Gender and Risk

Gender can affect your risk as well. Heart disease has been considered the disease of a man for years. We now know, though, that heart disease is both men and women’s leading cause of death. While men tend to develop coronary artery disease earlier in life, the risk of cardiac disease in women after age 65 is nearly the same as in men. Women have many of the same cardiac disease risk factors as men, including smoking, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

Diabetes is a risk factor that is particularly important for women to develop heart disease. The symptoms of diabetic women’s heart disease may be very subtle. Women may experience mild heartburn or shortness of breath throughout physical exertion rather than chest pain deemed to be common in men or people without diabetes.

When to see a doctor

Seek emergency medical care if you have these heart disease symptoms:

Cardiovascular disease is easier to treat if it is detected earlier, so talk to your doctor about your cardiovascular concerns. Talk to your doctor about steps you can take to reduce your risk of heart disease if you are concerned about developing heart disease. This is particularly important if you have a heart disease family history.