Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are a group of disorders of the heart and blood vessels. CVD can refer to a number of conditions. Some of these might develop at the same time or lead to other conditions or diseases within the group. Common complications include heart attack, chest pain (angina), or stroke.
Diseases and conditions that affect the heart include:
- Angina – chest pain that occurs due to decreased blood flow into the heart
- Arrhythmia – an irregular heartbeat or heart rhythm
- Congenital Heart Disease – a problem with heart function or structure is present from birth
- Coronary Artery Disease – affects the arteries that feed the heart muscle
- Heart Attack – a sudden blockage to the heart’s blood flow and oxygen supply
- Heart Failure – the heart cannot contract or relax normally
- Dilated Cardiomyopathy – heart failure in which the heart gets larger and cannot pump blood efficiently
- Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy – the heart muscle walls thicken and problems with relaxation of the muscle, blood flow, and electrical instability develop
- Mitral Regurgitation – blood leaks back through the mitral valve of the heart during contractions
- Mitral Valve Prolapse – part of the mitral valve bulges into the left atrium of the heart while it contracts, causing mitral regurgitation
- Pulmonary Stenosis – a narrowing of the pulmonary artery reduces blood flow from the right ventricle (pumping chamber to the lungs) to the pulmonary artery (blood vessel that carries deoxygenated blood to the lungs)
- Aortic Stenosis – a narrowing of the heart valve that can cause blockage to blood flow leaving the heart
- Atrial Fibrillation – an irregular rhythm that can increase the risk of stroke
- Rheumatic Heart Disease – complication of strep throat that causes inflammation in the heart and which can affect the function of heart valves
- Radiation Heart Disease – radiation to the chest can lead to damage to the heart valves and blood vessels
Vascular diseases that affect the arteries, veins, or capillaries throughout the body and around the heart include:
- Peripheral Artery Disease – causes arteries to become narrow and reduces blood flow to the limbs
- Aneurysm – a bulge or enlargement in an artery that can rupture and bleed
- Atherosclerosis – plaque forms along the walls of blood vessels, narrowing them and restricting the flow of oxygen rich blood
- Renal Artery Disease – affects the flow of blood to and from the kidneys and can lead to high blood pressure
- Raynaud’s Disease – causes arteries to spasm and temporarily restrict blood flow
- Peripheral Venous Disease – general damage in the veins that transport blood from the feet and arms back to the heart. This may causes leg swelling and varicose veins
- Ischemic Stroke – a blood clot moves to the brain and causes damage
- Venous Blood Clots – can break loose and become dangerous if they travel to the pulmonary artery
- Blood Clotting Disorders – blood clots form too quickly or not quickly enough and lead to excessive bleeding or clotting
- Buerger’s Disease – leads to blood clots and inflammation, often in the legs, and which may result in gangrene
Risk factors for Cardiovascular Disease
- Unhealthy Diet – Reduce fat and salt, eat more fruit and vegetables.
- Physical Activity – Increase physical activity, even walking just 10 minutes a day can make a difference. Ideally physical activity 30-60 at least 3 times a week.
- Tobacco Use – Quite smoking, vaping and other tobacco products.
- Obesity – Increases risk of CVD and diabetes
- Alcohol – Excessive alcohol consumption can increase your cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
- Familial Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy – A common inherited heart condition that can affect people of any age.
- Family history of heart attack, stroke or high blood pressure – Talk to your health care team
- Familial Dilated Cardiomyopathy – One or more relative who has been diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy. Without a known cause you are at higher risk and should talk to your physician.
- Family history Hypercholesterolemia – If you have a familial hypercholesterolemia, your LDL is usually very high. If high cholesterol is caused by genetics symptoms can begin at a very young age.
Other Risk Factors
Age – CVD is most common in people over 50
Gender – Men are more likely to develop CVD at an earlier age than women
- Pain or discomfort in the center of the chest
- Pain or discomfort in the arms, left shoulder, elbows, jaw, or back
- Numbness of the face, arm, or leg. specifically on one side of the body
- Confusion or difficulty speaking or understanding speech
- Difficulty seeing with one or both eyes
- Difficulty walking, dizziness and/or loss of balance or coordination.
- Severe headache with no known cause
- Fainting or unconsciousness
Often, there are no symptoms of the underlying disease of blood vessels. A heart attack or stroke may be the first sign of underlying disease.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms call 911 immediately and seek medical care.
Cardiovascular Disease is easier to treat when detected early. Talk to your doctor about your concerns regarding your heart health. Your doctor can work with on steps you can take to reduce your heart disease risk. This is especially important if you have a family history of heart disease.
Dr Bobish and her team are here to help you navigate your risk factors and guide you on preventative steps you can take.