Cardiovascular ailments: Types, Symptoms & Tests
Cardiovascular ailments or Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are diseases of the heart. These are a group of disorders that affect the circulatory system, including the heart, arteries, veins, and capillaries. These cardiovascular ailments can affect one or many parts of the heart and/or blood vessels at the same time. The person may be symptomatic (physically experiencing) or asymptomatic (not feeling anything at all) to the disease.
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CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASES INCLUDE:
High Blood Pressure(Hypertension) – Hypertension is the term for high blood pressure that is higher than normal (120/80).
Coronary Heart Disease – A disease that affects the vessels which supply blood to heart muscles.
Angina – Also known as ‘Angina Pectoris’. A type of chest pain caused by a reduced flow of blood to the heart. This is one of the most common symptoms of coronary artery disease.
Cardiac Failure/Heart Failure – A chronic condition in which the heart doesn’t pump blood effectively.
Heart Attack – it usually occurs when a blood clot blocks blood flow to the heart.
Aortic Atherosclerosis – a gradual buildup of plaque in the aorta.
Cerebrovascular Disease – It refers to a group of conditions that affect blood flow and blood vessels in the brain.
Peripheral Arterial Disease – A circulatory condition in which narrowed blood vessels reduce blood flow to the limbs.
Rheumatic Heart Disease – Condition in which the heart valves have been permanently damaged by rheumatic fever.
Congenital Heart Disease – birth defects that affect the normal functioning of the heart caused by malformations of the heart structure from birth.
Pericardial Disease – the buildup of too much fluid in the double-layered, sac-like structure around the heart(pericardium).
Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism – It occurs when a thrombus(blood clot) forms in one or more of the deep veins in the body, usually in the legs.
Arrhythmia – It includes the improper beating of the heart. Arrhythmia or Dysrhythmia refers to an abnormal rhythm as a result of a defect in the conduction system of the heart.
Endocarditis – It is inflammation of the inner lining of the heart’s chambers and valves.
Stroke – It is a medical emergency. There is damage to the brain from the interruption of its blood supply.
RISK FACTORS IN CARDIOVASCULAR AILMENTS
The most important risk factors for heart disease and stroke are an unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, tobacco consumption, and the harmful use of alcohol. The effects of these risk factors can be seen in individuals as raised blood pressure(hypertension), raised blood glucose, raised blood lipids(hyperlipidemia), overweight, and obesity. These “intermediate risk factors” indicate an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and various other cardiovascular diseases.
The risk of cardiovascular diseases can be reduced by the cessation of tobacco use, eating more fruits and vegetables, reduction of salt in the diet, avoiding the harmful use of alcohol, and regular physical activity. Health policies are trying their best for making healthy choices affordable and available. They are essential for motivating people to adopt and succour to healthy behaviours.
There can be a number of underlying factors of cardiovascular diseases(CVDs). These are a reflection of the major forces driving social, economic, and cultural change – globalization, urbanization, and population ageing. Other factors of CVDs include penury, tension, and congenital causes.
In addition, drug treatment for high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and high blood cholesterol levels is necessary to reduce cardiovascular risk. Also, prevent heart attacks and strokes among people with these conditions.
SOME COMMON SYMPTOMS OF CARDIOVASCULAR AILMENTS
A sudden and significant reduction in blood flow to the muscles of the heart is known as Heart Attack. Similarly, a disruption in circulation to the brain is known as a Stroke. Often, there are found to be no symptoms of these underlying diseases of the blood vessels. A heart attack or stroke may be the first indication of underlying diseases. Here are a few common symptoms of heart attack:
- pain or discomfort in the chest which starts slowly and then goes
- discomfort in the arms, the left shoulder, back, neck, or jaw
- nausea or maybe abdominal pain
- light-headedness or dizziness
- shortness of breath
- cold sweat, the person may turn pale
The most common symptom of a stroke is a transient ischemic attack(TIA). Sudden weakness of the face, arm, or leg, most often on one side of the body are the other symptoms of a stroke.
Typical ministroke symptoms may include:
- sudden confusion
- swallowing difficulties
- balancing and walking problems
- fainting or unconsciousness
People experiencing any of these symptoms must take medical care immediately.
TESTS INVOLVED IN CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASES
Here are a few tests which can be used to diagnose cardiovascular diseases:
It measures substances that indicate cardiovascular health, such as cholesterol, blood sugar levels, and specific proteins. It can also be used to check blood clotting levels.
Ankle-Brachial Index (ABI)
It is a quick, simple way to diagnose peripheral artery disease.
It is performed to check the normal rhythmic activity of the heart. It is a quick and painless test used to record the electrical signals of the heart.
This is also known as Holter Monitoring. It is a portable ECG device that is worn for a day or more to record the daily heart’s activities. Therefore, it is used to detect irregular heartbeats.
It is a non-invasive exam that uses sound waves to create an image of the heartbeat and blood flow. It also helps in determining if a valve is narrowed or leaking.
Cardiac Computerized Tomography (CT)
This is a technique that uses X-rays and computer processing to create 3D images of your heart and blood vessels.
Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
A cardiac MRI uses magnetic fields and computer-generated radio waves to create highly detailed images of your heart.
Exercise tests/Stress tests
It analyzes how physical activity affects your heart in a controlled manner. These tests often involve riding a stationary bike or walking on a treadmill while the heart is under-monitored. This type of test can involve ECGs and/or imaging tests also.
It uses a catheter (thin, hollow tube) to measure pressure and blood flow in your heart. This test can show if there are any blockages in the heart arteries.
TREATMENT OF CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASES
The treatment option that is best for a person depends on the specific type of cardiovascular disease. A high number of countries’ health systems require significant investment and reorientation to effectively manage CVDs.
Basic medicines that should be available include aspirin, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, beta-blockers, statins, etc.
However, some options include:
- medication, such as to reduce cholesterol, improve blood flow, or regulate heart rhythm.
- surgical operations such as coronary artery bypass grafting, heart transplantation, balloon angioplasty, valve repair, or replacement therapy
- rehabilitation, including lifestyle counselling and exercise prescriptions.
Critical conditions such as stroke or heart attack should be speedily managed.
Certain medical devices are also required to treat Cardiovascular Diseases. Such devices include prosthetic valves, pacemakers, and patches for closing holes in the heart.
In 2013, WHO Member States agreed on global mechanisms to reduce the avoidable NCD burden including a “Global action plan for the prevention and control of NCDs 2013-2020”. This Plan aims to reduce the number of premature deaths from NCDs by 25% by 2025 through nine voluntary global targets. Two of the targets directly focus on preventing and controlling CVDs.
Target 6: Reduce the global prevalence of raised blood pressure by 25% between 2010 and 2025.
Target 8: At least 50% of eligible people should receive drug therapy and counselling (including glycaemic control) to prevent heart attacks and strokes by 2025.
These targets can be achieved with significant investment in, also strengthening health systems.
WHO is currently working on increasing the guidance available for the management of acute coronary diseases and stroke which will provide guidance in these important areas.
- Lopez, E. O., Ballard, B. D., & Jan, A. (2022). Cardiovascular disease. In StatPearls [Internet]. StatPearls Publishing (read more-Cardiovascular Disease – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf (nih.gov)