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7 Common Heart-Related Issues and Ways You can Improve your Heart Health

In 2020, around 4.77 million Indians lost their lives due to cardiovascular diseases. In fact, India has one of the highest numbers of CVD-related deaths. Heart disease can affect anyone, including children, adults, and seniors, although it's more common in adults. Your heart is in charge of pumping blood throughout your body, so any disruptions or obstructions might have fatal consequences. Heart disorders are indeed harmful, but with early diagnosis and the right preventive measures, they can be avoided. In this post, we will discuss the top 7 heart-related diseases, their symptoms, diagnosis, and preventive measures thoroughly. We have also included some easy tips for a healthy heart towards the end, so make sure you stay with us till the end!

Types of Heart-Related Issues

1. Coronary Artery Disease

Indians, even the younger generation, have a higher risk of developing Coronary Artery disease. India's youth have a 12–16% higher likelihood of developing CAD than other ethnic groups globally.

Blood is transported from and to the heart via the arteries and veins. The arteries in and around your heart are called coronary arteries, which have a diameter of about 3-4 millimeters. When bad cholesterol gets deposited inside your arteries, it reduces the diameter of the artery, thus causing trouble in blood circulation.

This build-up of cholesterol, calcium deposits, and other fatty substances is called plaque, and the condition is referred to as atherosclerosis. In some cases, the plaque can burst, leading to a blood clot.

CAD, if not managed well in time, can take a toll on your heart muscles, resulting in heart failure.

Who is at risk?

  • Since cholesterol deposition is one of the main causes of CAD, people with high cholesterol values are at a higher risk of developing CAD.
  • Any individual who is overweight or has an inactive lifestyle and smokes tobacco is likely to develop CAD eventually.
  • People who have a family history of developing CAD before the age of 50

Common symptoms

Most people realize they have coronary artery disease when they have their first heart attack. Here are some symptoms of a heart attack-

  • Chest pain
  • Angina (chest pain due to lack of oxygen)
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty in breathing

Diagnosis

To test if you have CAD, a CT coronary angiogram can be used to assess the calcium deposition and blockages in the artery.

They might also use Cardiac Catheterization in which a thin, flexible tube is inserted into the artery to inspect the interior of your arteries for blockages.

Treatments

If the situation is under control, you’ll be recommended to adopt good habits like daily exercise, saying no to tobacco, and eating a balanced diet. You might also be recommended omega-3 supplements, which increase the levels of good cholesterol and decrease the levels of bad cholesterol.

Commonly recommended medications include cholesterol-lowering drugs, aspirin, and calcium channel blockers.

If your condition requires the doctors to operate, you might have to undergo an Angioplasty and stent placement surgery. The procedure inflates a tiny balloon inside your artery to open clogged arteries and facilitate healthy blood flow.

2. Congenital Heart Disease

Any heart-related condition that has been present since birth is called congenital heart disease. These conditions can include holes in the heart, pulmonary valve stenosis, and an underdeveloped heart.

Who is at risk?

Infants who are born with Down syndrome develop differently, so it is possible that they have certain heart diseases. In addition, the majority of infants with congenital cardiac disease have mothers who-

  • had certain infections during pregnancy
  • were consuming certain medicines during pregnancy like statins.
  • smoked or consumed alcohol during pregnancy
  • had unmanaged type 1 and type 2 diabetes
  • family history of Congenital Heart Disease

Common symptoms

  • Fast breathing and heartbeat
  • Fast breathing and exhaustion while a baby is nursing
  • Inflammation of the eyes, stomach, or legs
  • Severe fatigue and exhaustion
  • Cyanosis (lips and skin having a blue tint)

Diagnosis

The diagnosis is done either before birth or after. If a congenital heart disease is suspected during the ultrasound, echocardiography is carried out to confirm the disease.

After birth, if the baby shows any symptoms of heart disease, those will be checked during the overall examination of the baby.

Sometimes the symptoms show up after a few months or years, so make sure you get the disease diagnosed if you notice any of the above symptoms.

Treatments

The treatments for congenital heart disease vary based on the type of disease. If it’s a small hole, it will most likely recover on its own. On the other hand, complicated issues might need some medical intervention or even surgery.

A report stated that higher maternal folate status protects against unfavorable birth outcomes like congenital heart abnormalities, low birth weight, and preterm birth. Pregnant women can try B12 and folate supplementation to promote the healthy growth of their babies. If you don’t feel like increasing the number of tablets you are consuming, you can rely on vitamin B12 strips, which are instantly dissolving oral strips developed with nanotechnology.

3. High Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is the force that the heart uses to pump blood from the ventricles. Our pressure varies based on how much oxygen is required. For instance, it rises while we exercise and returns to normal when our body is at rest. It's natural for blood pressure to fluctuate depending on what the body needs. However, if your blood pressure is consistently high and this persists for a long time, it may cause the wall of your left ventricle to thicken and raise your risk of heart failure and stroke. Moreover, high blood pressure harms and may even burst blood vessels.

Our blood pressure is measured in two ways. Systolic blood pressure measures the force the heart applies to the artery walls with each beat, and diastolic blood pressure measures the pressure the heart places on the artery walls between beats. Normal blood pressure for a healthy individual is 120/80 mmHg.

Who is at risk?

  • Individuals with elevated blood pressure. It means your blood pressure is higher than the normal range but less than what we would call a threat. A blood pressure of 120/80 - 129/80 mm/Hg is considered elevated blood pressure.
  • Individuals who are obese, follow an inactive lifestyle and consume a lot of sugar, salt, and fat.
  • Being constantly under stress and anxiety
  • Individuals who indulge in too much alcohol and tobacco
  • Individuals with a family history of high BP
  • Individuals who have diabetes and/or kidney disease
  • Individuals over the age of 65.

Common symptoms

There aren’t any specific symptoms of high blood pressure. You just have to keep measuring it. We would recommend everyone above the age of 40 to regularly measure their blood pressure.

Some symptoms of extremely high blood pressure are-

  • Very painful headaches
  • Nosebleeds
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Blood in the urine

Diagnosis

Diagnosis of high blood pressure is rather simple. Your BP is measured on at least two different days or occasions to get an idea of your average blood pressure. If your blood pressure is around 140/90 mm Hg or higher, then you do have high BP.

Treatments

Your doctor would usually recommend medicines to keep your blood pressure under control. Besides these medicines, you should try to change your lifestyle for better and long-term results. Have a healthy diet, reduce sodium (salt) intake, have foods rich in potassium, work out for at least 30-40 minutes a day, and manage your stress in any way you can. Try to quit smoking and alcohol. You can also take Omega tablets and other multivitamins and multi-minerals to bridge any nutrition gaps.

4. Valve Disease

Your heart has four valves, which, in layman’s terms, are gates that open and close as your heart pumps blood. It ensures that the blood flows in the right direction. There are different types of valve diseases, including-

Valvular stenosis - Narrowing of the valve opening, which reduces the amount of blood that can flow through it at a time.

Valvular insufficiency - When valve leaflets don’t close completely and the blood is allowed to flow in the opposite direction.

Valvular atresia - Infants who have underdeveloped valves are diagnosed with this disease.

You could be diagnosed with these diseases in more than one valve.

Who is at risk?

  • Individuals over the age of 65
  • Infants of women who were on certain medications and had some infections during pregnancy
  • Family history of valvular diseases
  • Individuals with high BP, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease

Common symptoms

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue and dizziness
  • Sudden and fast weight gain
  • Fever

Diagnosis

When listening to the patient’s heartbeat with a stethoscope, if the doctor hears an unusual murmur and irregular rhythm, a suspicion of valvular disease can be raised. A further study using echocardiography might be needed to find which valve is affected and how.

Treatments

Depending on the kind of valvular disease you have, you might be recommended some medicines. If the valve needs replacement, you’ll have to undergo surgery.

5. Angina

Angina is chest pain that happens because of a low supply of oxygen to the heart muscles. It usually happens when one or more coronary arteries are blocked. It is a clear sign of the potential risk of coronary artery disease.

There are two main types of Angina - stable and unstable. Stable angina has a pattern that helps you predict when it will happen. The feeling of discomfort is usually the same in every episode. Unstable angina, on the other hand, doesn’t follow a pattern and happens at rest. It is more dangerous than stable angina.

Who is at risk?

  • Individuals with high cholesterol and BP and diabetes
  • Individuals who are obese
  • Men over the age of 45 and women over the age of 55
  • Individuals with metabolic syndrome
  • Individuals who indulge in too much alcohol and tobacco
  • Family history of Angina

Common symptoms

  • Chest pain
  • Burning in the chest
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Shortness of breath

Diagnosis

Meet a doctor whenever you experience chest pain. The doctors can conduct a stress test, an EKG, chest x-rays, cardiac catheterization, a blood test, and other diagnostic methods to figure out the degree of the problem.

Treatments

Based on the reason behind the Angina, proper treatment would be recommended by the doctor. The most commonly used treatments are medicines and cardiac procedures to open the blocked arteries. If you have other heart conditions like BP, medicines for that might be given too.

The best solution to any heart disease is improving your lifestyle. Think about what you eat, how much you move throughout the day, and how long you sleep. To help you improve your lifestyle, you can consume natural supplements. If you are looking for something specific to Angina, then you can try a natural vitamin D supplement, which reduces the episode of angina by up to 20%.

6. Arrhythmia

Arrhythmia refers to an irregular heartbeat. Arrhythmia occurs when your heart beats faster or slower than it should. Your heart's muscles expand and contract in response to the electrical signals that it receives. Improper signals can cause your heart to beat faster ( tachycardia) or slower (bradycardia).

Who is at risk?

  • Individuals who have had one or more episodes of heart attack
  • If you have narrowed heart arteries
  • Diagnosed with any heart-related disorder
  • High blood pressure
  • Individuals whose thyroid gland is either underperforming or overperforming
  • Obstructive sleep apnea, which causes pauses in breathing during sleep
  • Certain medications
  • Excess consumption of alcohol, caffeine, and Tabacco.

Common Symptoms

  • You feel like you skipped a heartbeat
  • Lightheadedness
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Fatigue
  • Pounding in your chest

Diagnosis

Common heart tests like ECG, stress tests, and cardiac catheterization can be used.

Treatments

Your arrhythmia's nature and severity will determine your course of treatment. Medication, lifestyle modifications, invasive therapy, and electrical devices to aid the proper functioning of heart muscles are some treatments used by doctors.

7. Heart Failure

The term "heart failure" is quite misleading. It doesn’t mean that your heart just stopped working. Heart failure refers to a condition where your heart is unable to pump as well as it should. This reduces the amount of oxygen-rich blood transported from the heart, making you weak, fatigued, and short of breath.

Who is at risk

  • Individuals with coronary artery disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, valvular disease, and other heart-related conditions.
  • Eating food high in sodium (salt), sugar, and fats
  • Inactive lifestyle and obesity
  • Individuals who indulge in too much alcohol and tobacco

Common symptoms

  • Falling short of breath while doing simple daily tasks
  • Not being able to breathe when lying down
  • Swelling in feet, ankles, and/or stomach
  • constantly exhausted

Diagnosis

A number of tests would be done to determine if your heart is failing or if there is some other heart issue. Some tests include blood tests, ECGs, echocardiograms, breathing tests, and chest X-rays.

Treatments

For most people, heart failure is long-term and cannot be treated. However, many have successfully managed to keep things under control with proper medicines, a good lifestyle, and devices like a cardiac resynchronization device (biventricular pacemaker), which helps the ventricles (the two lower chambers of the heart) of your heart pump blood more efficiently.

Some Easy Tips to Keep your Heart Healthy

As we saw, in most cases, people who have bad eating habits, inactive lifestyles, and poor sleep cycles are the ones who are at a higher risk of getting heart disease. To prevent heart disease, all you have to do is shift to a healthy lifestyle.

Some basic things that you can easily do and will make a huge difference are:

  • Start eating healthy. What do we mean by "healthy"? Have a balanced diet, and don’t forget your daily greens. Avoid food items with too much salt, sugar, and trans fat.
  • Control your consumption of alcohol and tobacco. Non-smokers, try to stay away from secondhand smoke.
  • Do a cardio workout of your choice for 30 minutes every day. If running and jogging are boring, you can try swimming, cycling, badminton, and jump ropes.
  • Don’t consume any medicines without a prescription. Some medications have side effects that contribute to heart disease.
  • See how you can make your day active. Besides the 30-minute workout, you can add more activities to your day, like playing with your dog, for example. Discovering new hobbies will also help you manage your stress.
  • Stress management can be difficult, but it is necessary to maintain heart health. Talk to a therapist to figure out how you can maintain your composure and stay in a calm and tranquil state.
  • Control your cholesterol levels. Trans fats, which raise the bad cholesterol in the body, should be avoided.
  • Fix your sleep schedule! Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep. It allows your body to heal itself.
  • Get your weight in control. Calculate your BMI and make efforts that help you reduce your weight slowly.
  • When it comes to kids, you can start early by keeping their cholesterol levels in check with a change in lifestyle and diet. You can also add natural supplements rich in B12 + D3 designed for kids. These supplements use natural ingredients to support cardiovascular health.
  • Finally, please have yourself checked on a regular basis, especially after the age of 40. Check your blood pressure and note your numbers. Observe if it’s increasing or decreasing. Talk to a doctor, if it's too complicated for you to understand.

Wrapping Up

Knowledge is the key to preventing any disease. We hope this post was able to add value to your knowledge. If you notice any of the above symptoms, please consult a doctor. An early diagnosis can save you from further complications. Take care of your heart; it’s a little fragile, so handle it with care.

References

https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/coronary_ad.htm

https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/01.ATV.0000057393.97337.AE

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6837928/

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/congenital-heart-disease/#:~:text=Congenital%20heart%20disease%20is%20a,babies%20born%20in%20the%20UK.

https://www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/guide/hypertension-symptoms-high-blood-pressure

https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/risk_factors.htm

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17639-what-you-need-to-know-heart-valve-disease

https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/valvular_disease.htm#:~:text=valvular%20heart%20disease%3F-,Valvular%20heart%20disease%20is%20when%20any%20valve%20in%20the%20heart,four%20valves%20(Figure%201).

https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/heart-attack/angina-chest-pain

https://health.gov/myhealthfinder/health-conditions/heart-health/keep-your-heart-healthy

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/16749-arrhythmia

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