Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) is a broad term that includes any condition that affects the heart or blood vessels. It is the leading cause of mortality worldwide and can manifest itself in different forms, such as:
Types of Cardiovascular Disease
- Atherosclerosis – a buildup of plaque in the arteries, leading to heart attack or stroke
- Cardiomyopathy – a condition where the heart muscle weakens and can no longer pump efficiently
- Heart valve disease – when the valves in the heart don’t open and close properly, causing changes in the flow of blood
- Arrhythmia– disruption to the normal heartbeat
- Aortic aneurysm– a balloon-like bulge in the aorta
- Peripheral artery disease (PAD) – a circulatory condition that has an impact on arteries that supply blood to the legs and feet
The symptoms of CVD can range from mild to severe and depend on the type of disease. Common signs and symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, palpitations, and fatigue. Risk factors for CVD include age, a family history of the condition, smoking, physical inactivity, high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity.
Diagnosing Cardiovascular Disease
CVD is usually diagnosed through a combination of physical examinations, blood tests, electrocardiography, X-rays, CT scans, and other imaging tests. Treatment often involves medications and lifestyle modifications, such as dietary and exercise changes, quitting smoking, and reducing stress levels.
Preventing Cardiovascular Disease
The best way to prevent CVD is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This includes eating nutritious food, engaging in regular physical activity, quitting smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight. Knowing your family history can also be beneficial in identifying any potential risks for developing CVD. With early detection and intervention, the progression of CVD can be delayed and, in some cases, even avoided.