Cardiovascular Disease (CVD): Types, Symptoms, Causes, Risks, Complications, Diagnosis and Treatment

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Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)

1Overview

The leading cause of mortality in the world is heart disease also known as cardiovascular disease. About 17 million deaths are recorded each year, which is an estimated 31 percent of the total population, the World Health Organization reports. Technological advancement takes a major role in the economy. As a result, unwanted adverse effects also rise like chronic diseases caused by unhealthy food choices like fast food and sedentary lifestyle.

Cardiovascular disease is a term used for diseases of the heart may it be acquired or congenital. Atherosclerosis, arrhythmias, valve disorders, congenital heart defects and congestive heart failure are examples of cardiovascular diseases.

2Types

Congenital Heart Defects

The problem comes from the structure in the heart that did not develop during the fetal stage. Atrial Septal Defect, aortic stenosis, coarctation of the aorta, tetralogy of Fallot, patent ductus arteriosus are some examples of congenital defects.

Endocarditis

This is a type of infection caused by a bacterium or a virus affecting the heart especially the endocardium, a membrane that separates the chambers of the heart.

Heart attack and stroke

When the blood vessels become blocked, the supply of blood to the heart and brain is depleted, causing hypoxemia (low oxygen) to the muscles and cells.

Heart Arrhythmias

These are any irregular beat of the heart like bradycardia (< 80 bpm) and tachycardia (>100 bpm) that are seen through the Electrocardiogram (ECG).

Valve defects

These involve the damage to the valves of the heart (bicuspid, tricuspid, pulmonary and aortic valve) may cause problems in the circulation of blood.

Arteriosclerosis

A plaque, usually fats or cholesterol, adheres to the side of the vessels can cause an obstruction.

3Symptoms

Symptoms may vary depending on the condition and the patient.

General symptoms include:

  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Dizziness
  • Decrease in the level of consciousness
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness

There are distinguishable symptoms in every disease. These help the doctor determine the right treatment. Congenital defects can be detected at birth through these symptoms:

  • Tachypnea (Fast breathing)
  • Tachycardia (>100 bpm)
  • “Blue Baby” / cyanosis
  • Fatigue, usually seen when breastfeeding

In endocarditis, due to the presence of infection, there will be:

  • Hyperthermia
  • Body malaise
  • Weight loss, decrease in appetite
  • Red spots may appear on the chest, the mucosa of the mouth
  • Tachypnea (Fast breathing)

The symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Chest pain that radiates to the left arm and jaw
  • Profuse sweating
  • Heart burn
  • Weakness
  • Loss of consciousness

Stroke symptoms, on the other hand, can be noticeable through:

  • Slurred speech
  • One side paralysis or numbness
  • Headache
  • Loss of coordination when moving or walking

Heart arrhythmias can be asymptomatic and can only be detected when having a routine check-up.

  • Irregular heart beat
  • Chest pain
  • Syncope
  • Nausea
  • Profuse sweating

Leakages and prolapse are examples of a valve defect. Regurgitation of blood can interrupt the flow throughout the system.

  • Edematous lower extremities like the legs
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Body malaise
  • Palpitations
  • Irregular heart beat
  • Loss of consciousness

Atherosclerosis can develop through time, symptoms may appear slowly and can be noticeable or detected during a routine physical exam.

  • Angina
  • Pain may be felt in the chest, neck, jaws, and back
  • Numbness or weakness
  • Difficulty in breathing

4Causes

Congenital Heart Defects

During the first month of conception, the heart develops. In some instances, the heart may have a structural defect like an atrial septal defect, which is due to genetic disposition or medications.

Endocarditis

Infection caused by bacteria or virus.

Heart Attack and Stroke

The blockage of thrombi to the vessels of the heart or brain causing inadequate blood and oxygen supply to the cells.

Heart Arrhythmias

Predisposing factors like diabetes, uncontrolled high blood pressure and coronary artery disease may cause cardiovascular disease. Moreover, lifestyle practices like smoking, the use of illegal drugs and alcohol abuse may also lead to CVD.

Valve Defects

Valve defects are either caused by an infection that is not treated properly rheumatic heart fever.

Arteriosclerosis

Fats or cholesterol (plaque) builds up on the sides of the arteries due to improper diet and inadequate healthy lifestyle.

5Risk Factors

Nonmodifiable Factors-: factors that can’t be changed, can contribute to having cardiovascular disease.
These include:

Gender

Women who are in the pre-menopausal stage will have a lesser risk of acquiring cardiovascular diseases than men.

Ethnicity

According to researchers, those who are South Asian and African have a higher risk of having cardiovascular diseases.

Age

As people age, there will be an increased risk of having cardiovascular diseases. Muscles of the heart may weaken in time.

Hereditary or Family history

Having a family member who has a cardiovascular disease will increase the risk of developing the same disease.

Modifiable Factors-factors that can be modified or changed.
These include:

Obesity

People who are overweight or obese are at a higher risk of having cardiovascular disease. To prevent this, you should eat a healthy diet, avoid foods that are high in saturated fat, reduce the intake of fast foods and sugars and exercise regularly.

Sedentary Lifestyle

Physical activity may reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. People should perform exercise at least three to four times a week.

Smoking

Smoking has been linked to cardiovascular disease. Stopping cigarette smoking will significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Alcohol Abuse

Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol has been associated with CVD. Drink moderately or avoid drinking alcohol.

Stress

Many studies have linked stress and cardiovascular disease. To avoid this, practice recreational activities, do deep breathing exercises and learn to relax especially after a long day’s work.

6Complications

Serious complications may happen if cardiovascular disease is left untreated.

Stroke

Hemorrhagic or ischemic stroke may happen, and this may increase the pressure in the brain causing the depletion of oxygen supply. This can cause permanent damage to its tissues.

Heart Attack

A heart attack involves the occlusion of the blood vessels to the heart. This can do damage to the heart muscle because of decreased oxygen being delivered.

Heart Failure

The heart will compensate for the inadequate blood supply to the organs, causing the heart muscles to thicken to add the pumping force.

Pulmonary Embolism

Pulmonary embolism involves the blockage of the vessels in the lungs called emboli. This may result in chest pain, difficulty in breathing and emergency cases, it can be lethal.

7Diagnosis

In diagnosing CVD, tests must be conducted specifically based on the signs and symptoms felt by the patient. The doctor will ask a complete medical history, including a physical assessment.  Aside from these, the doctor will require you to undergo some tests including:

Blood Test

The medical technologist will draw a sample of blood. The results may indicate a rise in the level of troponin, complete blood count, and other indicators of CVD.

Chest X-ray

During an X-ray, the image of the thoracic region will be seen including the heart. This will determine the size of the heart.

Echocardiogram

This procedure involves the visualization of the heart’s structure and function via ultrasound.

Electrocardiogram

This procedure uses electrical signals to determine the rhythm of the heart. It determines if there are any irregularities in the beats. Holter monitor is a monitoring device that records the rhythm of the heart for one to two days.

Cardiac Computerized Tomography Scan

This device lets the doctor view the heart and its structure.

Stress Test

Electrodes are attached to the chest of the patient while doing an activity like a treadmill test. It will show how the heart will respond to the stress during an activity.

Cardiac Catheterization

This procedure involves the insertion of a thin tube into the blood vessel, and dye will be injected. It will allow the doctor to see the flow of blood and any abnormalities.

8Treatment

Medicines

Aspirin

Aspirin is used for cardiovascular diseases. It has anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antipyretic and anticoagulant properties. It prevents the blood to clot, reducing the risk of formation of emboli.

Digoxin

Digoxin helps the heart muscles contract delivering adequate blood supply to the body.

Calcium Channel Blocker

It acts on the blood vessel making it relax to allow the blood to pass through, thus decreasing the workload of the heart.

Diuretics

These drugs lower the blood pressure and decrease the work of the heart by eliminating the excess water in the body.

Nitrates

Nitrates are used to treat patients who are having chest pains and angina. These dilate the blood vessels and relax the muscles to promote the better blood circulation of oxygen.

Invasive Procedures

Pacemakers

A small device is inserted into the body, and it will send electrical signals to the heart to regulate its rate and rhythm. It is used in a patient with congestive heart failure.

Angioplasty

A tube will be inserted into the vessel to dilate them with the use of stents.

Bypass Surgery

This is an invasive procedure that creates a new passage for the blood to flow.

Heart Transplant

A donor’s heart will be used to replace the old one. Series of the test will be done to make sure that the heart is a match for the patient.

Valve Treatment

This is done to address a valve disease; a surgery may be done by inserting a balloon (balloon valvuloplasty).

Lifestyle Changes

Adequate and Regular Exercise

An average person should exercise at least three to four times a week. Consult a doctor on what type of exercise will be appropriate for your condition.

Balance Diet

Eat fresh fruits and vegetables and other foods rich in vitamins and minerals. Omega-3, which is found in fish, is also good for the heart.

Smoking Cessation

Smoking can damage the lungs and also causes the blood vessels to constrict. Constriction of the vessels depletes the blood supply to the important organs.