Heart disease is a broad range of diseases that affects the heart muscle, blood vessels, etc. There are many different types of heart disease. Heart disease is just the broad category. Hundreds of thousands of people suffer from heart disease in the U.S. alone. Two different types include congenital heart diseases, which run in the family, and the most common, which is coronary artery disease. Coronary artery disease kills over 370,000 people annually. About 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States alone every year. Which is every one in four deaths.
There are many symptoms for heart disease and some are more significant than others. A very significant symptom is a heart arrhythmia, which can but not always means there is an underlying heart issue. The disease can cause this to happen. Heart arrhythmias are just abnormal heart rhythms and can have other causes besides heart disease. The causes of abnormal heart rhythms are some medications, drug abuse, diabetes, high blood pressure, excessive alcohol/caffeine, smoking and stress. Other symptoms of heart disease are heart attacks, strokes and heart failure, etc. There are also big differences between men and women when it comes to symptoms of heart disease. Women have less typical symptoms. Typical symptoms would be chest pain, which is associated with heart problems. But, women sometimes do not have this symptom.
The signs that people have heart disease are greatly varied. Men usually have chest pain and usually have some of the risk factors such as they do not live the healthiest lifestyle and their body is in poor physical condition. Other signs for women are they do not live a healthy lifestyle and women are more likely to have signs that are unrelated to chest pain such as neck, jaw, shoulder, upper back, or abdominal discomfort. More signs are shortness of breath, pain in one or both arms, nausea or vomiting, sweating, lightheadedness or dizziness, and unusual fatigue. Women with heart disease usually also have some of the risk factors too.
What are the causes for heart disease? There are many different types of heart disease so the causes are varied. The biggest difference is that some are congenital so it is nothing the person did wrong. They just have a heart that does not function or did not develop properly. Heart disorders present at the time of birth are called Congenital Heart Disease. Congenital Heart Disease can develop in the womb when the heart starts to develop which is one month after conception. Other causes can be certain medicines, genes, medical conditions, and/or when a kid is growing into it adult. About eight of every one thousand babies have such abnormalities. There is a valvular heart disease, which can be caused by infection, rheumatic fever, and connective tissue disorders, or you can just be born with it. It can be hereditary. Also, people can get heart infections caused by parasites, viruses, and bacteria.
Cardiomyopathy is another type of heart disease. There are three different types of Cardiomyopathy: Dilated, Hypertrophic, and Restrictive. Dilated cardiomyopathy is the most common. What it does is it usually enlarges the left ventricle of the heart. The cause is unknown but doctors and scientists believe that certain drugs, toxins, infections, reduced blood flow, and/or the parent can cause it. Next, is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and is when the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick. While it is usually hereditary, it can develop because of high blood pressure or age. Lastly, is restrictive Cardiomyopathy. It is the least common. This happens when the heart becomes rigid and less elastic. Sometimes it can happen for no reason or you can get it with certain diseases such as connective tissue disorders, if you have too much iron in your body and some cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation cause this kind of cardiomyopathy.
There is another problem to mention: Coronary Artery Disease. This disease is caused by an injury to the inner layer of the coronary artery. This “injury” can be caused by smoking, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. So basically, living an unhealthy lifestyle. Coronary artery disease has no cure. It is deposits of fat or plaque in the coronary artery and causes restricted blood flow.
Cures for heart disease can be as easy as living a healthy lifestyle. Improving your lifestyle, which is as simple as eating whole, raw foods and exercising can do a great deal for your health. This is really the best thing you can do to improve your heart health.
There are two main parts to treatment/care for heart disease. The first is interventions. This is more for coronary artery disease (the most common in the country). Coronary artery disease cannot be cured just treated. These have to take immediate action because something bad has happened such as stroke, heart attack, heart failure, etc. If you do not get professional medical help it can go downhill fast and the person who is suffering with this may die.
There is CPR, stents, angioplasty that is a little cutting to open the blocked arteries. There is heart bypass surgery. It is an extensive surgery when the coronary arteries are blocked, the doctor can make a new path for blood to the heart. Also a heart transplant is possible. Other interventions can be for heart arrhythmias, which is usually just a sign of something else wrong but not always. There are medications to improve that. Cardioversion and electrical cardioversion are used when drugs alone cannot fix an arrhythmia. Also pacemakers and ICDs (implantable cardio defibrillators) are used to regulate the heart’s function and help it.
There are also different medications that people can take when they have heart disease such as blood thinners, blood pressure medication, antiarrhythmics, and aspirin, which also help with heart disease, such as heart attacks and strokes.
Current researchers have been seeking to understand the risk factors that come along with coronary artery disease. Risk factors can be age and sex. Men are more likely to get coronary artery disease. More factors are family history, smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, overweight or obesity, physical inactivity, and high stress. A lot of things can cause or put you at risk for coronary artery disease.
These risk factors can lead to chest pain, heart attack, heart failure, or a heart arrhythmia. Other current research has focused on how much obesity factors into heart disease and heart failure. It has a huge affect. While obesity hurts your entire body, it really takes a toll on your heart. This is why people are actually concerned for obese people’s health. Because it is really unnecessary and problematic for the wellness of a person. Coronary artery disease is a slow process that happens over a lifetime. But, it is the most common disease in the United States striking fifteen million people according to the American Heart Association. It is also very expensive. In 2010, to treat coronary artery disease cost the US 316.4 billion dollars. Also the American Heart Association has researched strokes and deaths and they showed a decline. Strokes have gone from No. 3 cause of death in the US to No. 5 in the US in just over five years.
Other current research involves how to prevent/treat children born with heart defects. Finding actual causes and preventing them so it does not happen anymore. Also, treating people who already have them and curing them.
What is great about heart disease is the fact that it can be so preventable. This is why it is so odd that it is the leading cause of death in the United States. While it has been taking root in our culture and there has been a steady decline in the number of deaths from heart disease, it is still the leading cause of death and has been for over ninety years. The reductions in deaths can come from less people smoking, more routine emergency care for heart disease and stroke, scientific breakthroughs, more laws for healthy environments, etc. Another thing is there have been huge campaigns that have improved awareness about healthy living. A lot of these campaigns are focused on improving the health and wellness of children which is great to try and increase the normality of living a healthy lifestyle and making it a habit in the next generation.
In conclusion, while heart disease is a very life-threatening illness being the top cause of death in the United States, there is still hope because it is slowly and steadily declining. It is easier than you would think to prevent heart disease. Lifestyle is key and it is great because almost everyone in the US is aware.
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