Heart disease is a term to bucket many different types of conditions together. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States. However, in some cases, great progress toward healing can be made through simple lifestyle changes.
What Are the Different Types of Heart Disease?
- Coronary heart disease: This is the most common type of heart disease, which is caused by clogged arteries. The arteries become clogged with cholesterol, which impedes blood flow. When this happens, oxygen delivery to the heart is reduced and the heart works harder to pump the blood in an effort to get more oxygen. This type of heart disease can be lessened by healthy lifestyle habits.
- Congenital heart valve issues: Congenital heart issues can be due to faulty performance in the valve, or other issues like holes or defects that don’t allow the heart to work properly. These issues are often discovered due to another health issue or through testing for surgery rather than from symptoms.
- Heart failure: This can be caused by other types of heart disease or from other medical issues. A person can be in heart failure for some time, and it can be managed long term, but not cured.
- Arrhythmias: This means the heart is beating in an abnormal way, either the speed or the rhythm. Arrhythmias can occur and then resolve, but in some instances it is a true defect. There are treatments, both surgical and medicinal, that can treat arrhythmias.
What are the symptoms of heart disease?
Early signs of heart disease are varied depending on the type of disease you have. Coronary artery disease, the most common type of heart disease, can lead to chest pain, but could have no symptoms before a heart attack.
With heart failure, early signs can be vague, such as fatigue or swelling in the legs. Valve issues might be found through other testing and discovered during routine screenings. The best way to keep tabs on your heart health is to schedule regular check-ups with your primary care provider.
What are the causes of heart disease?
Heart disease has many causes. It can be hereditary, but even in this case there are steps you can take to mitigate that risk.
Some things that can contribute to heart disease include:
- Drug use
- Lack of exercise
- Congenital defects
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- A diet high in fat and cholesterol
- Other health issues such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol or even depression
How can heart disease be prevented?
The number one way to protect your heart is through a healthy lifestyle. But this doesn’t mean you must only eat vegetables or run five miles a day.
Here are some simple ways to help prevent heart disease:
- Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke
- Drink alcohol in moderation or not at all
- Eat a balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, healthy fats and lean proteins
- Get plenty of exercise, aiming for 30 minutes to one hour on most days
- Learn to reduce stress and care for your mental health
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Maintain healthy teeth and gums
- Stay hydrated by drinking enough water each day, which also helps with weight maintenance
Learn about the heart and vascular care services we provide at Bon Secours.