Heart disease includes coronary artery disease, arrhythmia, cardiomyopathy and heart failure. Fat and cholesterol can narrow your heart’s arteries, making it harder for blood to pass through. Many people don’t even know there’s a problem until an artery is clogged and they have a heart attack. But there are warning signs of coronary artery disease like frequent chest pain called angina.
If a blood clot completely blocks your artery, it cuts off the blood supply to part of your heart. Blood carries oxygen, and a shortage of that can quickly damage the organ and possibly kill you. The attack is sudden and it’s important to seek medical help right away.
Heart attack feels like:
A: Pain or pressure in the chest
B: Discomfort spreading to the back, jaw, throat, or arm
C: Nausea, indigestion or heartburn
D: Weakness, anxiety or shortness of breath
E: Fast or irregular heartbeats
It’s an emergency even when your symptoms are mild. Women don’t always feel chest pain. Compared to men, they’re more likely to have heartburn or heart flutters, lose their appetite, cough, feel tired or weak. Don’t ignore these symptoms. The longer you wait to seek treatment, the more damage can be done. A fast response can save your life.
Your heart beats because of electrical impulses, and they can get off rhythm. Arrhythmias can make your heart race, slow down, or quiver. They’re often harmless and pass quickly, but some types can affect your blood flow and take a serious toll on your body. Consult your doctor if you notice anything unusual.
Over time, health problems such as high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes cause abnormal heart muscle, a serious condition which makes it hard to pump and carry blood to the rest of the body. It can lead to heart failure.
Heart failure doesn’t mean your heart stops working. It means the organ can’t pump enough blood to meet your body’s needs. So over time, it gets bigger and pumps faster and weakens the muscle and lowers the amount of blood flowing out even more, which adds to the problem.
Mostly heart failure is due to coronary artery disease and heart attacks. You can have congenital heart defect from birth, which is a leaky valve or a damaged wall separating your heart chambers. Sometimes, the defects aren’t found until you’re an adult.
They don’t all need treatment, but some require medicine or surgery. If you have one, you’re more likely to have arrhythmias, heart failure and infected valves, but there are ways to lower these chances. It isn’t the same as a heart attack. Sudden cardiac death happens when the heart’s electrical system goes hay-wire, making it beat irregularly and dangerously fast. Instead of pumping out blood to your body, your chambers quiver. An electrocardiogram can confirm you’re having a heart attack, or if you’ve had one in the past. The doctor is enabled to watch your heart rate and blood pressure.
A Holter Monitor records the rhythm of your heart. If your doctor thinks there’s a problem, he might ask you to wear the monitor for a day or two. It tracks the electrical activity nonstop. Your doctor will probably ask you to log your activities and symptoms too. Chest x-rays are pictures of your heart, lungs and chest bones made with a small amount of radiation. Doctors use them to spot signs of trouble. In this image, the bulge on the right is an enlarged left ventricle, the main pumping chamber.
An echocardiogram test uses sound waves to show live and moving images of your heart. From the ultrasound, your doctor can spot damage or problems with your chambers, valves or blood flow. It helps to diagnose disease and see how well your treatments are working.
Cardiac CT takes detailed x-rays of your heart and its blood vessels. Doctors use it to look for build-ups of plaque or calcium in your coronary arteries, as well as valve problems and other types of heart disease. Cardiac catheterization guides a narrow tube, called a catheter, through a blood vessel in your arm or leg until it reaches your heart which shows any blockages and how bad they are.
If your heart starts to fail, you might be short of breath or feel tired. Keep an eye out for swelling in your belly, ankles, feet or legs. In many cases, long-term treatment can help keep things under control.
Angioplasty procedure opens a blocked artery and improves blood flow. Your doctor guides a thin catheter with a balloon on the end into your artery. When the balloon reaches the blockage, the doctor fills it with air. This inflates your artery and allows blood to move freely. The doctor may also put in a small mesh tube called a stent to keep it open.
If you have one or more arteries that are too narrow or blocked, a by-pass surgery operation is needed. A blood vessel from an area of your body, such as your chest, belly, legs, or arms is removed and then attached to a healthy artery in your heart. Your blood is guided around the problem area, ‘by-passing’ it.
Men are more likely to have a heart attack than women and at an earlier age. But heart disease is still the number one killer of both sexes. People with a family history of it also have a higher risk.
The following daily habits can lower your chances of heart disease:
A: Exercise regularly (30 minutes most days)
B: Stay at a healthy weight
C: Eat a balanced diet
D: Limit how much alcohol you drink
E: Don’t smoke
If you have diabetes, it’s important to manage your blood sugar levels. If you have high cholesterol and high blood pressure, do everything you can to get them in check. If you light up cigarettes, you’re two to four times more likely to get heart disease.