Cardiovascular disease (CVD) refers to a group of conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels, including the coronary arteries, which supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle. It is one of the leading causes of death worldwide.
There are several types of cardiovascular diseases, including:
Coronary artery disease (CAD): This occurs when the coronary arteries that deliver blood to the heart become narrowed or blocked due to the buildup of fatty deposits called plaque. CAD can lead to chest pain (angina), heart attacks, and other complications.
Heart attacks: Also known as myocardial infarctions, heart attacks happen when the blood flow to a section of the heart is significantly reduced or completely blocked, usually due to a blood clot. This can cause permanent damage to the heart muscle if not treated promptly.
Stroke: A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted or reduced, leading to brain cell damage or death. Most strokes are caused by a blocked artery (ischemic stroke) or bleeding in the brain (hemorrhagic stroke). Risk factors for stroke are often similar to those for heart disease.
Heart failure: This condition happens when the heart is unable to pump blood efficiently, either due to weakened heart muscles or stiffening of the heart. It can result from various causes, including heart attacks, high blood pressure, and certain diseases or conditions.
Arrhythmias: Arrhythmias are abnormal heart rhythms that can be too fast, too slow, or irregular. They can be harmless or life-threatening, depending on the type and severity. Arrhythmias can cause symptoms like palpitations, dizziness, and shortness of breath.
Common risk factors for cardiovascular disease include smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, obesity, diabetes, a sedentary lifestyle, family history, age, and certain medical conditions. Lifestyle modifications, such as adopting a healthy diet, regular physical activity, smoking cessation, and managing underlying conditions, play a crucial role in preventing and managing cardiovascular diseases. Medications, medical procedures (e.g., angioplasty, bypass surgery), and interventions to control risk factors may also be recommended.
It's important to note that cardiovascular disease can often be prevented or effectively managed through early detection, risk assessment, and appropriate lifestyle changes. Regular check-ups with healthcare professionals and following their guidance can significantly reduce the risk and impact of cardiovascular disease.