Cardiovascular Disease Symptoms and Treatment

Have you had persistent chest pain over the last few weeks? Do you feel it could be because of some heart problem? Read on to learn about cardiovascular disease symptoms and their treatment.
| Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Cardiovascular diseases includes those affecting the heart and its blood vessels. It includes such problems as heart attacks, heart failures, problems of heart valves and heart muscles, strokes and angina. Cardiovascular disease statistics reveal scary figures with this being the leading killer of men and women in the nation. Around 1 million people die every year in America because of cardiovascular diseases. These people belong to different races and ethnic groups. Among all the deaths accounted for in this country, cardiovascular diseases cause 42 percent of these deaths. Contrary to popular belief that old age is a primary factor in cardiovascular diseases, this disease even affects people as young as 35 and older. Modern stressful lifestyle and the junk food culture are causing even younger people to fall prey to this silent killer.
Very few women are aware of the dangers posed by this disease. At the same time as many as 38 percent women experiencing heart attacks die within a year as against 25 percent of men. Also after menopause the number of women developing and dying of cardiovascular diseases is more or less equal to the number of men experiencing the same. Other alarming cardiovascular disease statistics include the fact that by 2015 the number of people dying because of this will reach 20 million.

Many times cardiovascular problems are not detected because of absence of pain and other obvious symptoms. In that situation the underlying problems are not treated and this results in even more dangerous health problems such as strokes, heart attacks and even kidney damage. What makes cardiovascular diseases particularly dangerous is the fact that an individual may have multiple conditions at a particular time and may be completely unaware of it.
While cardiovascular diseases may exists without any obvious symptoms or pain there are some aspects that can be kept in mind to help identify potential problems. If there is severe interruption in the flow of blood this often results in a heart attack. The symptoms whenever present can be seen in varying degrees depending on the extent to which blood flow is hindered in the organ:

  • When there is a heart attack there may be pain in the central area of the chest and this pain is extremely oppressive. There can also be an intense squeezing feeling in the chest and this may last up to a few minutes. This chest pain may in some cases last for only a few seconds and in other cases occur sporadically. Sometimes the symptoms include chest pain that spreads around the neck region or shoulder and arm region. There may also be chest discomfort and a feeling of light headedness.
  • Palpitations are another symptom of cardiovascular diseases. Palpitations refer to an unusual degree of awareness regarding the heart beat. Irregular heart beats and skips in heart beats are often experienced as a part of palpitations.

Other cardiovascular disease symptoms include:

  • Sweating
  • Nausea and shortness in breath
  • Vomiting and jaw or back pain
  • Slow healing of cuts and sores
  • Weakness in arms or legs
  • Loss of balance or coordination
  • Difficulty speaking or understanding of speech
  • Severe headache with no known cause
  • Cramps in legs that go away on resting
  • Any loss of feeling in face or body
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Swelling in lower extremities (peripheral edema)
  • Extreme shortness in breath, general fatigue and cough particularly after any exercise session or after some activity.

The treatment for cardiovascular diseases depends upon the specific issues pertaining to each case and whether the patient is also suffering from diabetes is important to determine the line of treatment. Initially an electrocardiogram (ECG) is used to determine and record the electrical activity and the rhythm of the heart. Some of the cardiovascular disease treatments include:

  • ACE inhibitors: ACE inhibitors are called angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors. This medication helps to widen and dilate the blood vessels so that there is improvement in the amount of blood pumped by the heart and this in turn lowers and regulates the blood pressure. These also increase the blood flow because of which the heart has to work less hard.
  • Beta blockers: These are prescribed to deal with abnormal heart rhythms and since they do not cure arrhythmias these have to be taken for life.
  • Aspirin: Antiplatelets like aspirin is often prescribed for patients suffering from coronary artery disease, stroke, and angina among others. This is used to prevent blood clots from forming in the vessels.
  • Calcium channel blockers: These affect movement of calcium in the cell or blood vessel in the heart. This aids in relaxing the blood vessels, increasing supply of blood to the heart along with oxygen and thereby helps reducing the load on the heart.  

Other extensive treatments include:

  • Angioplasty: This procedure is used to open up blood vessels that are blocked. This is done by way of a balloon which is inserted during surgery and inflated inside the blocked vessel to remove the block and thereby open it.
  • Bypass surgery: In bypass surgery a blood vessel from another part of the body is used and this is done to redirect the blood flow around the narrowed or blocked portion of the blood vessel in the heart.  

While cardiovascular disease treatment may include medication that a person would need to take for a lifetime or in some cases even extensive surgeries, the most important element is adopting a better lifestyle. This would include quitting smoking and other addictions, eating a well balanced healthy diet with strict control over consumption of excessive oil, junk and sweet food. To recover and maintain good health, exercise in moderate proportions under the guidance of a medical professional is also equally important. Finally adopting a more relaxed and stress free approach towards life is also very important for cardiovascular disease patients.

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