What is Cardiovascular Disease?

By Elana B. Award-winning writer, advertiser and internationally published author

Cardiovascular disease is heart and blood vessel disease, also called heart disease, and includes numerous problems, many of which are related to a process called atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a condition that develops when plaque builds up in the walls of the arteries. This buildup narrows the arteries, making it harder for blood to flow through. If a blood clot forms, it can stop the blood flow. This can cause a heart attack or stroke.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death and a major cause of disability worldwide. A substantial number of these deaths can be attributed to tobacco smoking, which increases the risk of dying from coronary heart disease (another form of cardiovascular disease). So what can you do to help protect yourself from this killer disease? Education and healthy lifestyle choices can help.
A Heart attack occurs when the blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked by a blood clot. If this clot cuts off the blood flow completely, the part of the heart muscle supplied by that artery begins to die. Some heart attacks are sudden and intense. Most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often people affected aren’t sure what’s wrong and wait too long before getting help.
Although most people survive their first heart attack and live normal lives, having a heart attack does mean that you have to make some changes. Some of these changes include adopting a healthier lifestyle and diet. The best treatment of cardiovascular disease can be prevented or controlled effectively with prevention measures such as:
Regular exercise
• Not smoking
• Greatly reduced alcohol consumption
• Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight
• Eating a heart-healthy and well-balanced diet
• Modalities that help relax or de-stress the body and mind

How the cardiovascular system works
The blood from the heart travels from the left side of the heart and is rich in oxygen. It travels via arteries that decrease in size until it reaches the narrowest of arteries called capillaries in all the organs and other parts of the body.
Having delivered oxygen and nutrients and having collected waste products, blood is brought back to the right side of the heart through a system of progressively enlarging veins. This is called the circulatory system or the cardiovascular system. Cardiovascular system literally means “cardio” or heart and “vascular” or a system or network of blood vessels.

Risk factors include
High cholesterol
• Smoking
• Obesity
• Sedentary lifestyle
• Family history of heart attacks at an early age

What are the symptoms of cardiovascular disease?
Some of the symptoms listed below can be attributed to other causes; however, if you experience a few of these or more, it is a good idea to inform your healthcare provider.

• Shortness of breath
• Chest pain
• Facial numbness
• Weakness
• Rapid heart rate
• Sweating
• Dizziness
• Nausea
• Palpitations
• Fatigue upon exertion
• Chest discomfort

If you have recently been diagnosed with cardiovascular heart disease, your doctor will advise you of medications and lifestyle changes according to how badly the heart was damaged and what degree of heart disease you have.
Symptoms of cardiovascular disease vary depending on the specific type of cardiovascular disease. A classic symptom of cardiovascular disease is chest pain. However, with some forms of cardiovascular disease, such as atherosclerosis, there may be no symptoms in some people until life-threatening complications develop. This is one good reason to have regular yearly physicals and check-ups with your health care provider, along with living a healthy and non-sedentary lifestyle.

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Cardiovascular disease includes a number of conditions:
• Coronary artery disease (narrowing of the arteries)
• Heart attack
• Abnormal heart rhythms or arrhythmia’s
• Heart valve disease
• Heart failure
• Congenital heart disease
• Pericardial disease
• Heart muscle disease (cardiomyopathy)
• Aorta disease and Marfan syndrome
• Vascular disease (blood vessel disease)
• Peripheral arterial disease (peripheral vascular disease) – affects arms and legs
• Mitral valve prolapse

The most effective cardiovascular disease treatment plan includes a comprehensive approach that addresses your specific form of cardiovascular disease. This includes regular doctor visits, monitoring and testing, lifestyle and dietary changes, and may include medications or even surgery, depending on if you already have cardiovascular disease and what stage of CVD you have. Prognosis and outcomes of cardiovascular disease vary greatly depending on the type of cardiovascular disease, how quickly it is diagnosed and treated, coexisting conditions and diseases, and the type of overall health and lifestyle being practiced. Preventative measures can go a long way in helping reduce the risk of all types of heart disease.

Consult your doctor before using any health treatment — including vitamins, herbal supplements and natural remedies. Also, tell your doctor if you have a serious medical condition or are taking any medications. The information presented here is for educational purposes only and is in no way intended as a substitute for medical counseling.

Elana B. is an award-winning writer, speaker, and internationally published author. As a writer and ghostwriter she has written hundreds of stories from shorts to books to screenplays.
A gifted storyteller, Elana B.’s new children’s series, Too Terribly Busy and the “Too Terribly” Series of books, teach in a fun, creative way some of the most important lessons in life. Through this entertaining series of books, children will learn morals, manners, how important it is to achieve goals, as well as conflict resolution. Sneak peek of the first story in the new series: TooTerriblyBusy-SP1.

More by Elana B. and other related articles:

What is Atherosclerosis?
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30 Minutes of Physical Activity
The Feel Good Way to Better Health…Endorphins
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Lowering Risk for Cardiovascular Disease
Atherosclerosis of the Aorta…What Can I Do About It?

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