Heart disease is the single major cause of death in most developed countries, and accounts for almost thirty per cent of all fatalities. However, unlike what many people think, heart disease is not one single common ailment, but is a collective term that is commonly used to refer to a group of heart conditions. Different heart diseases often have different causes and different cures, and knowing about the most common heart ailments will not only make you more aware about the ailments that can afflict you, it will also help you in preventing many heart problems by taking the necessary precautions.
Some of the most common heart ailments are:
Coronary Heart Disease: Coronary heart disease is the most common heart disease among adults and one of the most fatal diseases to afflict the developed world. Coronary heart disease is a condition where the heart does not get the required amount of blood supply which ends up damaging the heart, often leading to heart attacks. The main cause of coronary heart disease is the narrowing of blood vessels due to fat deposits on their inner walls. This narrowing of the arteries decreases the amount of blood supplied to the heart and causes heart failure. While common symptoms of coronary artery or heart disease are angina and heart attacks, in many cases, it often goes undetected till the end. A person can avoid getting afflicted by coronary artery disease by controlling his or her cholesterol levels, since bad cholesterol or LDL is the major cause of artery blockage. Giving up smoking and drinking not more than one to two drinks a day will also go a long way in preventing coronary heart disease.
Congestive Heart Failure: Congestive heart failure is a condition where the heart fails in pumping the required amount of blood to other parts of the body. It often occurs as a result of coronary heart disease or narrowed arteries. A high rate of alcohol consumption and high blood pressure are other reasons that cause this condition. The main symptoms of this disease are edema and swelling in the body, breathlessness, unexplained weight gain and kidney problems. Avoiding alcohol, maintaining cholesterol and blood pressure levels and controlling stress may help in preventing congestive heart failure. However, people who have a family history of heart problems or those who already have heart problems or are alcoholics should get themselves examined for this disease regularly so that treatment can be started as soon as possible.
Endocarditis: Endocarditis is a condition where the endocardium or the membrane inside the heart’s valves is infected by bacteria. The only treatment for this ailment as of now is valve surgery.
Pulmonary Heart Disease: This is heart disease that occurs because of a pulmonary or lung disorder or problem. Some of the main symptoms of this disease are breathlessness, chest pain, dyspnoea and syncope. Pulmonary heart disease can turn quite fatal if it is left to progress till late stages and therefore it is important to get properly examined in case any of the symptoms are noticed.
Congenital Heart Disease: This includes a number of hereditary heart problems and heart defects that are there since birth. Because of this reason, in most cases congenital heart diseases cannot be prevented, but a person born without a congenital heart problem can still stay healthy and free of symptoms by maintaining a heart friendly lifestyle that includes a low cholesterol diet, regular exercising and an absence of alcohol and tobacco use.
High Blood Pressure: High blood pressure is both a heart disease and a symptom of heart diseases. Abnormal pressure on the artery walls causes the heart to beat faster than normal, often leading to strokes and heart attacks. Aneurysms are also common in patients suffering from high blood pressure.
How To Prevent Heart Disease
You can greatly reduce the risk of getting non-congenital or non-infectious heart diseases by following a healthy lifestyle that incorporates the following:
Regular exercise is one of the most important ways of reducing the level of cholesterol in your blood and keeping your heart and its supporting parts strong and healthy.
Getting your blood pressure regularly checked is important for people who either have heart problems or a family history. Knowing your blood pressure and keeping it under control can save you from heart diseases and related fatalities.
Staying away from smoking is very vital for people who want to avoid heart diseases because the risk of getting heart diseases for people who smoke is twice as high as that for non smokers.
It is also essential to keep your weight under control and within the specified normal limits for your age and height. Being overweight greatly increases the chances of heart problems.
Getting your cholesterol levels checked regularly and keeping you triglyceride and LDL levels low is an important step in saving yourself from artery blockage and heart attacks.
Eating healthy is another thing that you will need to do in order to avoid getting heart diseases. Apart from including at least 5 to 8 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet and increasing intake of HDL and fibre, you will also need to avoid junk food, fatty food and foods containing trans fats.