Heart Disease overview
Heart disease is a term used to describe a variety of conditions that adversely affect the heart. This includes things as varied as coronary artery disease, arrhythmias (heart rhythm issues), and even congenital heart defects.
While many people often use cardiovascular disease synonymously with heart disease, this isn’t entirely accurate. Cardiovascular diseases typically involve the narrowing of blood vessels, which raise the risk of heart attack and stroke. Heart disease, on the other hand, covers all forms of cardiovascular diseases but also includes issues related to the muscles, valves, and rhythm of the heart.
Given the wide variety of specific conditions covered under the scope of heart disease, the symptoms can vary quite a bit. Interestingly, men and women may also experience slightly different symptoms, even from the same condition. For example, men are more likely to have chest pain, while women are more likely only to experience discomfort in the chest, but also have shortness of breath or nausea.
That said, the most common symptoms regardless of the type of heart disease include chest pain and pressure, shortness of breath, pain or numbness in extremities, and even pain in the neck, jaw, or back. Unfortunately, for many, they won’t be diagnosed with heart disease until they suffer from a heart attack, stroke, or some other type of failure. As such, it’s incredibly important to keep a watchful eye on any potential symptoms and always discuss them with your doctor.
As with the symptoms, the causes and risk factors of various heart diseases vary with each condition. Unfortunately, two of the most common and significant risk factors, age, and genetics are entirely out of your control. That said, your risk of developing most forms of heart disease is significantly impacted by things such as your diet, exercise, and stress levels.
Heart disease is one of the most common conditions in the world, with reports finding that nearly half of all Americans currently have some form of heart disease. In fact, heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women, accounting for over 610,000 deaths per year, or around every one in four.
As such a common condition, it’s extremely important to understand all the best tools at your disposal. Keep an open eye for any new symptoms, and if you believe you or a loved one may be suffering from heart disease, please make sure to talk to your doctor as soon as possible. Only they can provide the most relevant and timely information for each patient.