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Home > Disease > Heart Disease - Causes, Symptoms, Treatment & Diagnosis

Heart Disease - Causes, Symptoms, Treatment & Diagnosis

Heart Disease - Causes, Symptoms, Treatment & Diagnosis

About Heart Diseases

The term ‘heart disease’ refers to several types of conditions that affect the heart. Often, it is also referred to as cardiovascular disease, which means a disease of the heart or blood vessels. These conditions include irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia), coronary artery disease (CAD), heart valve disease, heart attacks, hypertension, etc.

Who can get heart disease?

Contrary to widely held belief, heart diseases can affect people of any gender and at any age, even though the risk of developing heart diseases does increases with age. For example, men older than 45 years and women older than 55 years have a higher risk of developing conditions like rheumatic heart disease, coronary heart disease, etc. Other than this, people who lead a sedentary lifestyle or have other health issues, like obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc., are more likely to develop symptoms of heart disease.

Types of Heart Disease

There are several types of heart diseases that a person may develop. Some of the most common ones include:

Congenital Heart Disease

Congenital heart diseases refer to problems with the heart's structure that exist since birth. There are several types of congenital heart disease, which can broadly be classified as:

  • Cyanotic Heart Disease

Cyanotic congenital heart disease refers to defects that reduce the amount of oxygen being delivered to the body. Also known as critical congenital heart disease, these birth defects may lend a bluish tint (called cyanosis) to the skin of a newborn baby.

  • Acyanotic Heart Disease

Acyanotic congenital heart disease is a heart defect that results in the blood being pumped through the body abnormally.

Coronary Heart Disease

Also known as ischemic heart disease, this condition occurs because of the narrowing of the arteries leading to the heart, blocking the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the organ. The most common cause of this disease is high cholesterol, which is a waxy substance that builds up on artery walls, forming plaque.

Valvular Heart Disease

A healthy heart has four chambers and four valves, each of which has its own functions. Valvular heart disease is a condition caused by a damaged or poorly functioning heart valve. It is also one of the risk factors for heart failure.

Causes of Heart Disease

The causes of heart disease are different for every condition, like coronary artery disease and atherosclerosis are caused by the build-up of plaque in the arteries. Other causes of heart diseases include: -

  • Arrhythmia: This may develop due to other heart diseases or may occur by itself as well because of a COVID-19 infection, overactive thyroid gland, etc.

  • Heart Failure: Causes include cardiomyopathy, high blood pressure, thyroid disease, CAD, etc.

  • Heart Valve Disease: Rheumatic fever, congenital heart disease, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, heart attack, etc.

  • Endocarditis: Caused by bacteria that may enter the blood during an illness, after surgery, or after using IV drugs.
  • Rheumatic Heart Disease: Occurs when the muscles or valves of the heart are damaged by rheumatic fever.
  • Congenital Heart Disease: This happens in cases where something goes wrong when the heart of a foetus is forming inside the womb.

As the causes of heart diseases vary so much, it is always a good idea for one to get a regular cardiac check performed and to be aware of the risk factors for developing heart diseases.

Symptoms of Heart Diseases

Some heart diseases are ‘silent’ and are not diagnosed until the signs and symptoms of arrhythmia, heart attack, or heart failure are experienced. In such situations, symptoms may include:

  • Symptoms of Heart Attack: Palpitations, shortness of breath, discomfort in the upper body, cold sweats, chest pain that spreads to the arm, heartburn, and dizziness.
  • Arrhythmia: Fluttering feeling in the chest or palpitations.
  • Heart Failure: Shortness of breath, fatigue, or swollen veins, neck, abdomen, legs, ankles, or feet.

The list of heart diseases that may affect a person varies widely as do their symptoms. For example, symptoms of rheumatic heart disease include fever, swelling and tenderness in the joints, nodules, red lattice-like rashes, and uncontrolled limb or facial movements, while the symptoms of ischemic heart disease include pain in the shoulder, arm, neck, or jaw, sweating, nausea, vomiting, fast heartbeat, etc.

So, it is important to keep an eye out for early signs of heart disease, such as coughing or wheezing, constant lethargy, loss of appetite, frequent urination (especially at night), and swelling in body parts like ankles, feet, abdomen, etc. If one notices such symptoms, one should consult their doctor at the earliest for a diagnosis.

Risk Factors for Heart Diseases

There are several factors that increase the risk of developing heart disease, some of which can be controlled, and others that cannot. The most common ones include:

  • Age: While heart diseases can affect a person at any age, the risk of developing the same increases as one gets older.
  • Genetics: A family history of heart-related problems also puts one at a higher risk of developing heart disease.
  • Obesity: Having excessive body fat is linked with elevated levels of triglycerides and ‘bad’ cholesterol and can lead to the development of issues like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart diseases.
  • Sedentary Lifestyle: Not getting enough physical activity during the day can lead to several health issues, including heart diseases.
  • Alcohol and Smoking: Excessive consumption of alcohol and smoking are unhealthy lifestyle habits that can increase the risk of developing heart disease.
  • Unhealthy Diet: Consuming too many processed foods, trans-fats, or foods high in sugar and fat, salt, etc. can also affect one’s heart health.

There are also several health conditions that increase the chances of one developing heart issues, like:

  • High Blood Pressure: This may cause severe damage to arteries. Chronic blood pressure elevation also makes it highly likely for an individual to develop hypertensive heart disease.
  • High Cholesterol: Elevated levels of low-density lipoproteins (also known as ‘bad’ cholesterol) lead to the formation of plaque in the arteries, making them narrower, which can lead to cardiovascular diseases like CAD or stroke.
  • Diabetes: High blood sugar can damage arteries and artery walls and can also lead to heart failure.
  • Metabolic Syndrome: The term refers to a cluster of health conditions like obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, etc.
  • Preeclampsia: The condition causes a woman’s blood pressure to rise during pregnancy. The aftereffects of preeclampsia are many, including an increased risk of developing heart diseases.
  • Autoimmune Disorder: Autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus increase the risks of heart attacks.
  • Rheumatic Fever: This is an inflammatory disease that affects the connective tissues in the body. This fever is one of the main causes of rheumatic heart disease.
  • Birth Defects: Heart-related conditions that are present in an individual’s body from birth, also known as congenital heart disease, can also increase their risk of developing other conditions of the heart.

Prevention of Heart Diseases

Heart disease prevention is possible in many cases by making some lifestyle changes and taking precautions. These include:

  • Consuming a healthy diet
  • Keeping blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels in check
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Ensuring an ample amount of physical activity in the daily routine
  • Quitting smoking and limiting alcohol consumption

Treatment of Heart Disease

Heart-healthy lifestyle choices can help reduce the risk of developing heart disease but in many cases, treatment is required for a heart condition. There are also several conditions of the heart that are chronic, cannot be treated, and require proper management throughout for one to enjoy a normal, long life. Some heart-related issues can also be cured by making some changes in diet and lifestyle, while others may require medication, surgery, or other procedures. A healthcare provider can suggest an appropriate heart disease treatment plan depending on the type and severity of the condition.

Suggested Tests for Heart Disease Patients

Heart diseases are easier to treat when they are detected early, which makes regular cardiac checks crucial for everyone, especially for people who have higher risk factors for developing heart diseases.

At Max Lab, one can choose from an extensive range of test panels that are designed to help keep a check on heart health. Our panels include several tests for heart health, like cardiac screening test, lipid profile test, potassium serum test, total cholesterol test, electrolyte test, triglycerides test, apolipoprotein A1 and B test, etc. that one can choose from based on what their doctor prescribes and on any risk factors that they may have. The tests can be booked online at Max Lab at affordable prices along with convenient at-home sample collection. Test reports are generated within 24 hours of sample collection and can either be collected from the lab or downloaded from our website. Once the report is available, it is best to consult the doctor who will be able to interpret the results, perform a proper diagnosis, and suggest the right course of treatment or prescribe further tests, if required.

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