The Mayo Clinic website is an excellent source for all things medical but the information about heart disease, heart transplantation and related heart issues is comprehensive and for the most part plain language. Yippee!
In honor of American Heart Month, it seems a good time to learn more about heart disease. The Mayo Clinic describes heart disease as, “a broad term used to describe a range of diseases that affect your heart. The various diseases that fall under the umbrella of heart disease include diseases of your blood vessels, such as coronary artery disease; heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias); heart infections; and heart defects you’re born with (congenital heart defects).”
“Heart disease” and “cardiovascular disease” are used interchangeably, but the two diseases are different. Cardiovascular disease “refers to conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack, chest pain (angina) or stroke. Other heart conditions, such as infections and conditions that affect your heart’s muscle, valves or beating rhythm, also are considered forms of heart disease.”
The progress that has been made in the area of heart disease and cardiovascular disease is remarkable. As you might suspect, the best defense against these diseases is you and your lifestyle. approximately 1 in 4 Americans die due to heart disease every year.
But, we know more about the disease, likely causes, symptoms, preventive techniques and medications than at any time. Today, we will look at the symptoms of heart disease.
Symptoms of Cardiovascular Disease
Cardiovascular disease is caused by “narrowed blocked or stiffened blood vessels that prevent your heart, brain or other areas of the body from receiving enough blood.”
Symptoms of cardiovascular diseases include:
- · Chest pain (Angina)
- · Shortness of breath
- · Pain, numbness, weakness in legs and/or arms.
Sufferers of cardiovascular disease often ignore the symptoms until the vessels become so clogged that a heart attack occurs. If you experience the symptoms above, you should report them to your doctor as soon as possible. Herat attacks can be avoided by early detection and early treatment.
The Mayo Clinic divides symptoms of heart disease into five categories:
- · Heart disease caused by abnormal heartbeats
- · Heart disease caused by heart defects
- · Heart disease caused by thick heart muscle (cardiomyopathy)
- · Heart disease caused by heart infections
- · Heart disease caused by valvular disease
Symptoms for heart disease caused by abnormal heartbeats (Arrhythmia)
Arrhythmia occurs when the heart beats too fast, too slowly or irregularly. Sufferers can experience pain and discomfort during an outbreak of arrhythmia, which typically comes on suddenly. Arrhythmia and symptoms should not be taken lightly.
- · Fluttering in chest
- · Racing heartbeat
- · Slow heartbeat
- · Chest pain
- · Shortness of breath
- · Lightheadedness
- · Dizziness
- · Fainting (syncope)
Symptoms for heart disease caused by heart defects
Serious congenital heart defects are normally discovered at birth or shortly thereafter. Symptoms include:
- · Pale grey or blue skin (blue baby)
- · Swelling in legs, abdomen, around the eyes
- · Shortness of breath during feedings
Some congenital heart defects are not discovered until later in childhood and even in adulthood. Symptoms are:
- · Difficulty breathing during exercise
- · Easily tiring during exercise
- · Accumulating fluids in heart or lungs
- · Swelling of hands, ankles, feet
Symptoms for heart disease caused by thick heart muscle (cardiomyopathy)
Cardiomyopathy is the thickening and stiffening of the heart muscle. In early stages, sufferers may have no symptoms but as the condition worsens look for:
- · Breathlessness at any time
- · Swelling of legs, ankles, feet
- · Abdominal bloating caused by fluid buildup
- · Irregular heartbeats, rapid, ,pounding or fluttering
- · Dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting
Symptoms for heart disease caused by heart infections
There are three heart infections:
Pericarditis affects the tissue around the heart.
Myocarditis affects the muscular middle layer of the walls of the heart (myocardium).
Endocarditis affects the inner membrane that separates the chambers and calves of the heart (endocardium).
Each infection has slightly different symptoms but look for:
- · Fever
- · Shortness of breath
- · Swelling in legs or abdomen
- · Changes in heart rhythm
- · Dry or persistent cough
- · Skin rashes or spotting
Symptoms for heart disease caused by valvular disease
The heart has four valves: the aortic, mitral, pulmonary, and tricuspid valves. These valves open and close in order to direct blood flow through the heart. Heart valves can be damaged causing:
- · Narrowing of vessels (stenosis)
- · Leaking (regurgitation or insufficiency)
- · Improper closing (Prolapse)
- · Fatigue
- · Shortness of breath – see doctor asap
- · Irregular heartbeat
- · Swelling in feet or ankles
- · Chest pain – see doctor asap
- · Fainting – see doctor asap
The key to large event prevention is early detection. You should always discuss your heart and any troubling symptoms with a physician. The worst thing to do is deny or avoid the symptoms. Remember that heart disease is a general term covering a host of serious issues that kill more Americans than any other disease.
Do you part. Know the symptoms, pay attention and do not hesitate to act.
Next Time: How To Avoid Heart Disease