The blanket term ‘heart disease’ refers to several types of heart conditions, each of which has its own treatment and symptoms. In general, heart disease refers to any disorder that affects the heart, its vessels, muscles, valves, or internal electric pathways responsible for muscular contraction.
Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)
With CAD, blockages may form in the coronary arteries, which supply blood to your heart. This can lead to chest pains (angina) or a heart attack.
This is when your heart has an irregular beating pattern. Serious arrhythmias sometimes develop on their own, but more commonly stem from other heart problems.
This is when your heart doesn’t pump enough blood to meet your body’s needs, and is usually caused by CAD. It can also stem from thyroid disease, high blood pressure, heart muscle disease and some other conditions.
Heart valve disease
An abnormality may make it hard for a valve to open and close properly, leading to heart valve disease. This can cause blocked blood flow and blood leakage. Heart valve diseases include endocarditis, an infection usually caused by bacteria, and rheumatic heart disease, a condition that arises when your heart is damaged by rheumatic fever.
This is any disease affecting your pericardium, the sac
that surrounds your heart. This is usually caused by a viral infection, an inflammatory disease such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, or a pericardial injury.
Cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease)
With cardiomyopathy, your heart muscle can get stretched, thickened or stiff, preventing it from properly pumping blood. This disease has many possible causes, and doctors are often unable to find the exact cause.
Congenital heart disease
This occurs when something goes wrong while a baby’s heart is still forming in the womb. While this can lead to problems immediately after birth, symptoms sometimes only show as an adult.
Chest pain or discomfort
Upper back or neck pain
Nausea or vomiting
Upper body discomfort
Swelling of the feet, ankles or legs
Swelling of the abdomen
Swelling of neck veins
HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
Being overweight / obese
An unhealthy diet
Excessive alcohol use
Depending on the type of heart disease you have, treatments range from various medications to invasive surgery. However, many lifestyle choices can reduce your risk and improve your health, such as eating a heart-healthy diet, exercising often, quitting smoking, reducing stress and avoiding alcohol.
A stroke occurs due to a decrease or blockage in the brain’s blood supply. A person experiencing a stroke needs immediate emergency treatment.
This is the most common type of stroke, making up 87% of all cases, and occurs when a blood clot prevents blood and oxygen from reaching an area of the brain.
This occurs when a blood vessel ruptures. These are usually the result of aneurysms or arteriovenous
Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)
A TIA occurs when blood flow to a part of the brain is inadequate for a brief period of time. Normal blood flow resumes after a short amount of time, and the symptoms resolve without treatment. Some people call this a ministroke.
Confusion, including difficulty speaking and understanding speech
A headache, possibly with altered consciousness or vomiting
Numbness or an inability to move parts of the face, arm or leg, particularly on one side of the body
Vision problems in one or both eyes
Difficulty walking, including dizziness and a lack of coordination
Symptoms vary in their severity.
Learning the acronym ‘BE FAST’ is a good way to remember the symptoms of a stroke, and can help a person seek prompt treatment.
Is the person suddenly having trouble with balance or coordination?
Is the person experiencing sudden blurred vision, double vision or blindness in one or both eyes?
If the person tries to smile, does one side of their face droop?
If the person tries to raise both arms, does one arm drift downwards?
If the person tries to repeat a simple phrase, is their speech slurred or unusual?
If any of these symptoms are occurring, contact emergency services immediately.
The outcome of the patient depends on how quickly they receive treatment. Prompt care can further reduce the risk of permanent brain damage or death.