Everything you wanted to know about Heart Disease (Part III)

Symptoms of Heart Disease in Adults

In adults, symptoms of heart disease can be sneaky and easy to miss at first. Parents, doctors and teachers constantly monitor children and investigate anything that seems abnormal. However, as an adult, you have to monitor yourself, and it’s all to easy to make excuses for symptoms that you don’t want to be there in the first place.

However, heart disease is the number one killer of adults in America today, so you really can’t afford to be anything less than vigilant. If you experience any of the symptoms below on a regular basis, please talk to your doctor about it to make sure that you receive the appropriate screening and treatment.

Angina

This is the most common symptom of coronary artery disease, although it also occurs as a result of some other forms of heart disease. Angina is basically chest pain. It is often described as a crushing sort of pain, or a combination of pain and pressure in the chest region. Angina is caused when the blood supply to the heart is blocked and the heart is being starved for theĀ  oxygen it needs. In addition to chest pain, you may also feel discomfort in the shoulders, neck and arms.

Angina is classified based on how predictable the pain is. There are two types:stable and unstable. Stable angina always happens under certain conditions-after running, climbing stairs, or doing anything that increases the workload of your heart. Unstable angina is unpredictable-you might be watching television when it strikes.

Stable angina means that an artery is narrowed, but that the width if the blockage remains constant. The heart is able to keep the body well-fed with oxygen unless physical demands are placed upon it. Unstable angina means that an artery is partially obstructed and the width of the blockage is changing-either chunks of it are breaking off or blood clots are forming at the site and then being pushed onward. Unstable angina is the most dangerous form because an unstable blockage is more likely to suddenly and completely shut off blood flow to the heart.

Palpitations

A heart palpitation is the sensation that your heart is “skipping a beat.” This symptom often signals that you have a heart arrhythmia. Sometimes arrhythmia’s are temporary and not dangerous, so if it only happens on rare occasions and is not combined with other symptoms, there is probably not cause for concern. However, if this symptom occurs frequently or in conjunction with any of the other symptoms listed here, it is important to consult your doctor.

Fast Heartbeat

Feeling like your heart is racing even though you have not been engaging in strenuous activity can be a symptom of heart disease. This symptom also occurs in people without any problems, however, so don’t worry if it only happens occasionally. If it happens often or in conjunction with other symptoms, you should see your doctor.

Dizzy Spells

Spells of light headedness or dizziness can have many causes.However, heart disease is one possible cause, so if it happens often, it’s best to be examined by a doctor who can determine the cause and administer the appropriate treatment.

Fainting

Fainting, or sudden loss of consciousness, is a common experience and usually not serious. However, if you have had any issues with heart disease in the past or you experience a fainting spell in conjunction with other possible symptoms of heart disease, it is imperative that you see a doctor to rule out a potentially fatal arrhythmia.

Fatigue

Suddenly becoming more tired than usual during your day-to-day activities is another possible indicator of heart disease.

Shortness of breath

I you lose your breath and find yourself gasping for air during your normal daily activities, you may have heart disease or a lung disorder.

Nausea

Nausea can also be a symptom of some heart conditions. Of course nausea can have a variety of other causes…..anything from drinking too much to bad sushi the night before. So, use your best judgment before you start worrying about it.

Sudden rapid weight gain

This can be a sign of heart failure. Now, merely gaining a few pounds over the holidays is not a cause for concern. However, gains of 2-3 pounds per day accompanied by swelling in the legs, ankles, or belly and/or any other cardiac symptoms are a definite cause for concern.

If you experience any of the above symptoms, it’s important not to immediately panic. Many of these symptoms have a variety of other possible causes aside from heart disease. Most of the time, these other possibilities are both more probable and more benign. However, if you experience any one of these symptoms frequently or experience more than one of them at the same time, it is prudent to see a doctor to make sure that you don’t have an undiagnosed heart condition.

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Everything you wanted to know about Heart Disease. (Part II)

ADULT HEART DISEASES

Most people who have heart disease today were not born with it. Instead, it is something that developed over time. Adult heart diseases are usually caused by hereditary factors, lifestyle choices, or a combination of the two. When most people think of adult heart disease, they picture the typical heart attack as it is portrayed on TV and in the movies. The victim gasps, clutches their chest, and collapses. However, heart attacks are not really a heart disease in and of themselves-rather, they are a result of heart disease that has gone untreated until it was too late. Here is a list of common heart diseases in adults:

Coronary Artery Disease- This is the single most common form of heart disease in adults today, and also the main cause of heart attacks. Coronary artery disease occurs when coronary arteries, the arteries that feed blood to the heart, are blocked or obstructed. Remember, no other muscle in your body works as hard as your heart does, or has such a crucial job. Because your heart is so busy, it needs more blood and oxygen to function than other muscles in your body do. If that blood flow is cut off, the heart can’t pump like it should and starts to die.

Peripheral Artery Disease- Peripheral artery disease occurs when arteries other than the coronary arteries are blocked. For example, an artery in the leg might narrow and become blocked or obstructed. This can also cause a heart attack or stroke.

Valvular Heart Disease- Not all heart valve problems are congenital. Some people are born with heart valve defects, but in many other people problems in the heart valves develop over time. This can occur when the valves become hardened, or calcified, as a result of the aging process. It can also be a result of rheumatic fever or other types of heart disease. Valvular heart disease occurs when a valve becomes either stenotic or leaky. Both types can weaken the heart and cause it to fail if they are left untreated. Valvular heart disease sometimes produces no symptoms other than a heart murmur.

Cardiomyopathy- This is a doctors way of saying that your heart muscle is getting weaker. This can occur as a result of other heart conditions, such as coronary heart disease or valvular heart disease. It also can be caused by illnesses in other bodily systems. Kidney failure can cause it. There are two types of cardiomyopathy: dilated and hypertrophic. Dilated cardiomyopathy happens when the muscle in the heart becomes enlarged, or dilated. When the heart muscle enlarges it also bcomes more flaccid and can’t contact with as much force as it should. On the other hand, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy occurs when the heart muscle becomes too thick and stiff, and can’t pump enough blood to keep up with the body’s needs. This type of cardiomyopathy is usually caused by genetics.

Cardiac Arrhythmias- These are disturbances in the rhythm of your heart. Each side of your heart is told when and how fast to pump by an electrical impulse. These impulses originate in the sinus node, and are communicated throughout the heart via electrical pathways that function like invisible wires. If anything happens to the sinus node or disrupts the flow of electricity through the wires, arrhythmia can result. There are two different kinds of arrhythmia. When the heart beats too slowly, doctors refer to it as bradycardia. When the heart beats too quickly, it is called tachycardia. Arrhythmias can either be mild and self-correcting, or serious enough to cause death.

Pericarditis- A thin lining of tissue known as the pericardium encircles your heart and protects it. However, some times this protective sac can become inflamed, a condition called pericarditis. This can cause chest pain, shortness of breath and sometimes complications if the inflammation is severe or does not resolve itself quickly.

Heart Failure-Contrary to what you might think, heart failure does not mean that the heart stops beating. However, it does mean that the heart is no longer able to pump blood with as much power as it should be able to. Therefore, none of your organs are getting as much blood as they need, and waste products are also not being removed as fast as they should be. Heart failure cannot be cured, but it can be managed. At least 5 million Americans live with a diagnosis of heart failure.

Coronary Artery Spasm-In this disorder, the coronary artery experiences an involuntary contraction or spasm. This can interfere with blood flow to the heart, even causing a heart attack. Medical scientists are not yet sure why this happens. It does not appear to be connected to narrowed or hardened arteries, or to other forms of heart disease.

Everything you wanted to know about Heart Disease. (Part I)

Statistically speaking, heart disease is the most common cause of death in the U.S. today! More than 450,000 Americans died last year from heart disease, and over 1.2 million people experience a heart attack each year.
Heart disease is any illness or disorder that affects the heart, and causes to act abnormally. There are different types of heart disease; the most common variety is called coronary artery disease or CAD. Everyone reading this Blog has probably had some experience with heart disease, either personally or through a friend of family member.
If you or someone you care about has been diagnosed with heart disease, you probably have questions about what causes heart disease, how it can be treated, and how it can be prevented. This blog will attempt to address all of these issues so that you can be more informed and in control. Remember the old saying that “Knowledge is Power?” It definitely holds true in the case of heart disease-the more you know the more you can do to help treat and prevent this condition.
Heart disease is a common affliction, but as is the case with most illnesses, few people understand how heart disease happens and how it can affect the body. In order to learn more about how heart disease works, it is important to understand how the heart itself functions.
Along with the brain and lungs, the heart is one of the three most important organs in the body. In a healthy human, the heart is a fine-tuned machine that pumps blood like clockwork. It supplies every cell in your body with life-giving oxygen-rich blood. If anything happens to disrupt this blood flow, every cell in your body suffers.
This amazing organ is divided into four chambers. The upper 2 chambers are called atria, and the lower 2 chambers are called ventricles. The ventricles are responsible for pushing blood out of the heart to nourish the rest of the body. The atria hold the blood coming back into the heart, and then empty it into the ventricles.
The right ventricle and the right atrium work in concert to move blood that has been depleted of oxygen into the lungs, where it picks up a fresh supply of O2. Then it comes back to the left side of the heart. From there, the left atrium and ventricle push it out to distribute oxygen to the rest of the body.
In addition to the muscular chambers of the heart, an assortment of valves keeps everything flowing the right way at the right time. Blood-filled tubes of various sizes are used to distribute the blood throughout the body. These tubes are known as veins and arteries. Arteries carry blood away from the heart; veins carry it back to the heart for a fresh supply of oxygen. The coronary arteries are the arteries that provide fresh blood to the heart-these arteries are very important because the heart will start to die if it is not supplied with blood.
If everything is running smoothly, the heart keeps your body going by supplying it with fresh, oxygenated blood. However, this entire mechanical system is interconnected, and all of the different pieces are dependent on each other for proper functioning. If one part of the system fails, so does everything else. In a nutshell, then, heart disease occurs when any part of the cardiovascular system begins to work improperly or fail.

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