Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide and is listed as a major killer of both men and women in the United States.
This is an issue that appears to be on the rise, with cases growing in number each year.
There are several types of heart disease, each with its own symptoms and treatment options, and we have put together everything you need to know about the most common types of heart disease, as well as the major differences between the different types.
What Is Heart Disease?
Heart disease is a broad term for any condition that affects your heart or blood vessels. There are a number of potential causes, and these include:
Obesity is a leading cause of heart disease, and this can occur at any age, usually as a result of a poor diet, a lack of exercise, or a combination of lifestyle factors.
It is important to note that not all fat is bad; it’s just that when there is too much of it, it can lead to health problems.
Obesity can cause heart disease by increasing your risk of developing atrial fibrillation – this is an arrhythmia of the upper chambers which can also increase your risk of developing a stroke.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in animal fats. High levels of cholesterol in the bloodstream can build up inside the arteries, causing them to become clogged.
This can lead to atherosclerosis, where plaque builds up over time, restricting blood flow through the artery walls.
Atherosclerosis is one of the main causes of heart attacks and strokes.
Diabetes is another major risk factor for heart disease and is often linked to obesity.
Diabetes can damage blood vessel linings and affect how they function, leading to high blood pressure, heart failure, kidney disease, nerve damage, and other complications.
Smoking is a major cause of lung cancer, but it can also trigger heart disease by damaging the lining of the blood vessels.
The nicotine in cigarettes has been shown to raise blood pressure, and smoking may also increase the risk of having a heart attack.
A family history of heart disease is a strong indicator of future risk, so if you’re concerned about your chances of getting heart disease, make sure you discuss it with your doctor.
Having a parent, sibling, or child who had a heart attack or suffered from coronary artery disease before the age of 55 increases your risk of developing heart disease yourself.
What Are The Most Common Types of Heart Disease?
Not all forms of heart disease are the same; there are a number of different types which you may be diagnosed with. The most common include:
Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)
This occurs when plaques form within the wall of the coronary arteries, narrowing their diameter.
As a result, less oxygenated blood flows into the heart muscle, depriving it of vital nutrients.
CAD can develop gradually over many years, or suddenly without warning. If left untreated, it can ultimately lead to a heart attack or sudden cardiac death.
This is a medical condition that means that your blood pressure is consistently higher than normal.
Hypertension can cause damage to the heart and brain, and can eventually lead to heart disease and stroke.
Heart failure is when the heart cannot pump enough blood around the body. In some cases, this is due to a problem with the valves between the chambers of the heart.
Other times, it is caused by heart muscle damage from a heart attack or infection.
This is an irregular heartbeat that affects the upper chambers of the heart.
Atrial fibrillation can lead to blood clots forming in the veins, which can then travel to the lungs and block off small blood vessels, causing a pulmonary embolism.
A stroke happens when part of the brain becomes damaged because of a lack of blood supply.
Strokes can occur as a direct consequence of a heart attack, or as a complication of hypertension, diabetes, or a head injury.
How Can I Reduce My Risks of Heart Disease?
There are several things you can do to lower your risk of heart disease, including:
Reduce Your Cholesterol Levels
High cholesterol levels put you at increased risk of heart disease.
To lower your cholesterol naturally, try eating more fish and vegetables, cutting back on saturated fat and salt, and exercising regularly.
Eating healthily reduces your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases such as high cholesterol, obesity, and diabetes.
Try to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, low-fat dairy products, and nuts.
If you smoke, quitting will reduce your risk of heart disease. You should talk to your doctor about any medications you take, and ask them to monitor your progress.
Get Checked for Diabetes
If you have diabetes, you’re at greater risk of experiencing complications like heart disease. Talk to your doctor about how best to manage your condition.
Stress makes it harder for your heart to work properly. Find ways to relax and de-stress. This could mean taking time out to exercise, meditating, or practice yoga.
Regular physical activity has been shown to improve your overall fitness level, boost your mood, and even decrease your risk of developing certain types of cancer.
It’s also good for your heart – regular aerobic exercise can help strengthen your heart muscles, increase your circulation, and improve your breathing capacity.
In addition, it is important to maintain a healthy weight; being overweight increases your chances of having heart problems, and can increase the risk of complications if you become sick.
If you are already obese, losing weight may help prevent further damage to your heart, and improve your overall health.
Heart disease can be a serious, life-threatening condition, and it is crucial that you have the information that you need to make smart, healthy choices in every area of your life.
This will help you to protect your heart and enjoy a longer, happier, and healthier life.