One of the most common symptoms of cardiovascular disease is chest pain, which may indicate angina.
Here we will look at the range of cardiovascular disease types, common symptoms, and the most effective treatments.
What are the symptoms of cardiovascular disease?
There are many different types of cardiovascular disease, so symptoms and signs will vary depending on the specific type of disease a patient has. However, typical symptoms of an underlying cardiovascular issue include:
- Pains or pressure in the chest, which may indicate angina.
- Pain or discomfort in the arms, the left shoulder, elbows, jaw, or back.
- Shortness of breath (also known as dyspnea).
- Nausea and fatigue.
- Light-headed or faint.
- Cold sweat.
Overall, symptoms vary and are specific to the individual - but these are most common.
Types of cardiovascular disease
Cardiac (heart-related) diseases include:
- Angina - considered as both a cardiac and vascular disease.
- Arrhythmia - problems with the heartbeat, irregular heartbeat, or heart rhythm.
- Congenital heart disease - problem with heart function or structure present at birth.
- Coronary artery disease (CAD) - problem with the arteries that feed the heart muscle are diseased.
- Dilated cardiomyopathy.
- Heart attack.
- Heart failure.
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
- Mitral regurgitation.
- Mitral valve prolapse.
- Pulmonary stenosis.
- Rheumatic Heart Disease.
- Rhythm disorders such as atrial fibrillation.
Vascular diseases (diseases that affect the blood vessels - arteries, veins, or capillaries) include:
- Peripheral artery (arterial) disease.
- Renal artery disease.
- Raynaud's disease (Raynaud's phenomenon).
- Buerger's disease.
- Peripheral venous disease.
- Stroke - known as a type of cerebrovascular disease.
- Venous blood clots.
- Blood clotting disorders.
What are the risk factors for cardiovascular disease?
Researchers from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine reported in JAMA that the lifetime risk for cardiovascular disease is more than 50 percent for both men and women. They added that even among those with few or no cardiovascular risk factors, the risk is still more than 30 percent.
Risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease include:
- high blood pressure (hypertension)
- radiation therapy
- lack of sleep
- high blood cholesterol (hyperlipidemia)
- diets that are high in fat combined with carbohydrates
- physical inactivity
- drinking too much alcohol
- air pollution
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder) and reduced lung function
People with one cardiovascular risk factor often have one or two others, too. For example, very obese people often have high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and diabetes type 2.
Experts agree that the most common risk factors for cardiovascular disease are atherosclerosis and hypertension.
Cardiovascular disease statistics
According to the WHO (World Health Organization), cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the leading cause of deaths globally - more people die from CVDs than anything else.
In 2015, approximately 17.7 million people died from CVDs worldwide; just under one third (31 percent) of all registered premature deaths. Of these deaths:
- 7.4 million died from coronary heart disease
- 6.7 million from stroke
The majority (greater than 75 percent) of CVD deaths occur in low and middle-income countries.
For women in the United States, heart disease is the leading cause of death. In 2013, there were 289,758 or one in every four female deaths were from heart disease.
Cardiovascular disease prevention in adults
Smoking is a significant risk factor for CVDs. Quitting can help reduce the risk of many other conditions.
The majority of CVDs are preventable. It is important to address risk factors by:
- consuming less alcohol and tobacco
- eating fresh fruit and vegetables
- reducing salt intake
- avoiding sedentary lifestyles, particularly among children
Bad habits during childhood will not lead to cardiovascular disease while the individual is still young; but they can lead to the accumulation of problems that continue into adulthood, resulting in a greater probability of having a cardiovascular disease later in life.
Children who eat a lot of salt have a much higher risk of hypertension when they are adults, as well as heart disease and stroke. Parents should also keep a close eye on how much saturated fat and sugar a child consumes.
Does aspirin protect from cardiovascular disease?
Aspirin has become popular as an antiplatelet drug - to prevent blood clots from forming. High-risk patients take it in low doses to prevent strokes and heart attacks. Aspirin is also given to patients after a heart attack to prevent cardiac tissue death or heart attack recurrence.
A major problem posed by aspirin therapy for patients at risk of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular events is major bleeding. A considerable proportion of patients with diabetes have a high rate of major bleeding, regardless of their therapeutic aspirin status.
Bottom line, cardiovascular disease is a serious problem, globally. However, healthy lifestyle choices can reduce your chances. With simple changes it is possible for people to reduce the impact of CVDs and many other associated health issues.