Heart Disease: Symptoms, Prevention, and Treatment

Heart disease is a term referring to different types of heart conditions. The phrase, ‘cardiovascular disease,’ is used interchangeably with heart disease. Heart disease was listed as the number one killer in the United States of America. Heart diseases include coronary artery disease, congenital heart defects (heart defects that are generally hereditary), arrhythmias (problems with the rhythm of the heart), and also blood vessel diseases. It is also said to be a more significant cause of disability.

Symptoms of heart disease

Heart disease symptoms linked to heart arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeat) includes chest fluttering, shortness of breath, dizziness, bradycardia (slow heartbeat), tachycardia (quick or racing heartbeat), and fainting/near fainting.

Symptoms of dilated cardiomyopathy (weak heart muscle) include swelling of the feet, ankle, and legs; dizziness and fainting, fatigue, and breathlessness at rest. These symptoms are only present during severe conditions since no symptom can be observed during the early stages.

Symptoms linked to defects of the heart include swelling of the legs and around the eye area or abdomen, blue or pale grey skin color, a condition termed as cyanosis; shortness of breath, and low or poor weight gain among infants. These are symptoms of serious congenital defects of the heart and are commonly experienced soon after birth.

Congenital heart defects that are less serious are typically diagnosed later during childhood but may also occur during adulthood. Signs and symptoms include tiring easily during an activity or exercise, swelling around the ankles, feet, or hands; and trouble catching your breath during activities or exercise. This type is usually not considered life-threatening.

Heart infections (endocarditis) affect the inner membrane which separates the chambers as well as the heart valves. Symptoms of a heart infection include fever, weakness or fatigue, persistent or dry cough, shortness of breath, abdominal or legs swelling, unusual spots or skin rashes, and heart rhythm changes.

Prevention

Some of the causes of heart diseases include high blood pressure, smoking, obesity, poor diet, physical inactivity, high blood cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, stress, and anxiety. Medication and lifestyle changes can control these risk factors. The prevention of heart disease includes proper dieting/well-balanced diet, avoiding fast food/junk, regular exercise/physical activity, maintaining healthy body weight, and reducing stress levels.

Treatment

Treatment is generally done to reduce or even eliminate the symptoms and ultimately diminish the risks of cardiac arrest, stroke, and heart attack. The necessary treatment entirely depends on the test results, but other treatment options include lifestyle changes, healthy dieting, regular exercise, drugs or medication, surgery, and tobacco cessation, among others.

The heart generally has four valves: pulmonary, aortic, mitral, and tricuspid, which function by opening and closing to direct the blood flow into your heart. Various conditions may cause damage which may lead to leaking, narrowing or improper closing of the valves. Symptoms of valvular heart disease include shortness of breath, chest pain, irregular heartbeat, fatigue, fainting, and swollen ankles or feet.

It is important to check with your physician to get an accurate diagnosis of your symptoms and get proper treatment for your heart fast.