The risk of coronary heart disease can be reduced by taking steps to prevent and control those adverse factors that put people at greater risk for heart disease and heart attack. Additionally, knowing the signs and symptoms of heart attack, calling 911 right away, and getting to a hospital are crucial to the most positive outcomes after having a heart attack. People who have had a heart attack can also work to reduce their risk of future events.
Types of Heart Disease
Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)
CHD is the most common type of heart disease. CHD occurs when the coronary arteries, that supply blood to the heart muscle, become hardened and narrowed due to the plaque buildup. The plaque buildup and the narrowing and hardening of the arteries is called atherosclerosis. Plaques are a mixture of fatty substances including cholesterol and other lipids. Blood flow and oxygen supply to the heart can be reduced or even fully blocked with a growing plaque. Plaques may also rupture and cause blood clots that block arteries.
CHD can lead to a heart attack. Angina can also occur. Angina is chest pain or discomfort that occurs when the heart muscle is not getting enough blood. Over time, CHD can weaken the heart muscle and lead to heart failure, a serious problem where the heart cannot pump blood the way that it should. Also, irregular heart beats, called arrhythmias, can develop.
The most common symptom of CHD is angina. In some people the first sign of CHD is a heart attack. Doctors can assess a patient’s risk status by checking several factors, including blood pressure, blood cholesterol and glucose, history of heart disease, and other factors.
A heart attack is also called a myocardial infarction. If the blood supply to the heart is severely reduced or completely blocked, heart muscle cells may not receive enough oxygen and begin to die. The more time that passes without treatment to restore blood flow, the greater the damage to the heart. This damage can cause irregular heart rhythms or even sudden cardiac arrest or stopping of the heart beat. Death can result. Coronary artery disease is the chief underlying cause of a heart attack. A less common cause of a heart attack is a severe spasm of a coronary artery that reduces the blood supply to the heart.
When a person is having a heart attack, emergency care is needed that may include cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), electrical shock (called defibrillation), and other advanced emergency medical care. Emergency medical personnel and doctors can quickly perform emergency treatment and transport the person to the hospital. Bystanders might also be trained to perform CPR and to use an automated external defibrillator, if one is available, until emergency medical personnel arrive. Once at the hospital, doctors can perform several tests to quickly determine if the person is having or has had a heart attack and the best course of action to restore blood flow.
Because a heart attack is a medical emergency, it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of a heart attack and to act immediately by calling 9–1–1. A person's chance of surviving a heart attack is increased the sooner emergency treatment is administered.
A heart attack survivor may have a damaged heart that affects the heart rhythm, pumping action, and blood circulation. This puts heart attack victims at greater risk of having another heart attack or other events such as a stroke, kidney problems, and peripheral arterial problems. Cardiac rehabilitation is usually recommended for heart attack survivors after the emergency event has stabilized. Cardiac rehabilitation guides the patient to make changes that can help improve cardiovascular fitness and quality of life. These changes may include dietary changes, physical activity, smoking cessation, and other issues such as medication schedules and stress management. Heart attack survivors should seek their doctor's advice about daily activities such as returning to work, driving, physical and sexual activity, and air travel.
Symptoms & Signs
- Angina Chest pain or discomfort that occurs when the heart muscle is not getting enough blood. Angina may feel like pressure or a squeezing pain in the chest. The pain may also occur in the shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or back, and it may feel like indigestion. Angina is a symptom of coronary heart disease. Angina may be stable or unstable. Stable angina is chest pain that occurs on physical exertion or under mental or emotional stress. Unstable angina is chest pain that occurs even while at rest, without apparent reason.
- Aortic Aneurysm and DissectionA condition where the aorta stretches or dilates (aneurysm) and ruptures (dissection). A ruptured aneurysm is an emergency situation.
ArrhythmiasIrregular, or abnormally fast or slow, beating of the heart. The heart beat is controlled by electrical impulses. When the timing or frequency of these electrical impulses are disrupted, arrhythmias develop. Some arrhythmias are quite serious. An example is ventricular fibrillation, a severely abnormal heart rhythm that causes death unless treated right away by providing an electrical shock to the heart (called defibrillation). Others are less severe but can develop into more serious conditions over time. A particular concern is atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation is rapid, irregular beating of the upper chambers of the heart. The chambers can quiver instead of beating in a regular pattern. Blood is not fully pumped out of them and may pool and clot.
- CardiomyopathyA weakening of the heart muscle or a change in heart muscle structure. It often results in inadequate heart pumping or other heart function abnormalities. These can result from various causes, including prior heart attacks, viral or bacterial infections, and others.
- Congenital Heart Disease Malformations of heart structures, present during pregnancy or at birth. These may be caused by genetic factors or by adverse exposures during pregnancy. Examples include holes in the walls that divide the heart chambers, abnormal heart valves, and others. Congenital heart defects can disrupt the normal flow of blood through the heart. Congenital heart defects are the most common type of major birth defect.
- Heart Failure.This may also be called congestive heart failure or chronic heart failure. Heart failure is a condition where the heart cannot pump enough blood and oxygen to meet the needs of other body organs. Heart failure does not mean that the heart has stopped, but that it cannot pump blood the way that it should. Heart failure is a serious condition. There is no cure for heart failure at this time, except a heart transplant. Once diagnosed, medicines are needed for the rest of the person's life.
- Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)Hardening of the arteries that supply blood to the arms and legs. PAD is usually the result of atherosclerosis, the buildup of plaque and narrowing of the arteries. Blood flow and oxygen to the muscles in the arms and legs can be reduced or even fully blocked. Painful leg muscles, numbness, swelling in the ankles and feet, and weak pulse in the feet are some of the signs and symptoms of PAD.
Rheumatic Heart DiseaseThis condition is damage to the heart valves and other heart structures due to inflammation and scarring caused by rheumatic fever, which occurs from streptococcal infection.
What You can do:
Prevent and control high blood cholesterol : High blood cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease. Preventing and treating high blood cholesterol includes eating a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol and high in fiber, keeping a healthy weight, and getting regular exercise. All adults should have their cholesterol levels checked once every five years. If yours is high, your doctor may prescribe medicines to help lower it.
Prevent and control high blood pressure:Lifestyle actions such as healthy diet, regular physical activity, not smoking, and healthy weight will help you to keep normal blood pressure levels and all adults should have their blood pressure checked on a regular basis. Blood pressure is easily checked. If your blood pressure is high, you can work with your doctor to treat it and bring it down to the normal range. A high blood pressure can usually be controlled with lifestyle changes and with medicines when needed.
Prevent and control diabetesPeople: with diabetes have an increased risk of heart disease but can reduce their risk. Also, people can take steps to reduce their risk for diabetes in the first place, through weight loss and regular physical activity.
No tobacco :Smoking increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. Never smoking is one of the best things a person can do to lower their risk. And, quitting smoking will also help lower a person’s risk of heart disease. A person's risk of heart attack decreases soon after quitting. If you smoke, your doctor can suggest programs to help you quit smoking.
Moderate alcohol use: Excessive alcohol use increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. People who drink should do so only in moderation and always responsibly.
Maintain a healthy weight :Healthy weight status in adults is usually assessed by using weight and height to compute a number called the "body mass index" (BMI). BMI usually indicates the amount of body fat. An adult who has a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese. Overweight is a BMI between 25 and 29.9. Normal weight is a BMI of 18 to 24.9. Proper diet and regular physical activity can help to maintain a healthy weight.
Regular physical activity :Adults should engage in moderate level physical activities for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.
Diet and nutrition :Along with healthy weight and regular physical activity, an overall healthy diet can help to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels and prevent obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. This includes eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, lowering or cutting out added salt or sodium, and eating less saturated fat and cholesterol to lower these risks.
For more info check out:http://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/index.htm