Heart Disease: Risk Factors, Symptoms, and Treatment

man clenching his heart

Did you know that coronary heart disease is the leading cause of permanent injury and death worldwide? Statistics show that one out of four deaths in the United States can be attributed to heart disease. This is equivalent to more than 600,000 individuals in a single year in the U.S. alone. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), this number has been progressively increasing over the past decade due to lifestyle changes and lack of regular physician consultation. Therefore, AHA strongly recommends that you seek cardiology consultation in Gunnison at least once a year. For individuals with several risk factors, consultation every three months is recommended to reduce morbidity and mortality.

What Are the Risk Factors that Cause Coronary Heart Disease?

Several factors may increase your risk of developing coronary heart disease. Modifiable factors, such as obesity, cigarette smoking, lack of exercise, and poor diet, significantly promote the development of cardiovascular problems. High cholesterol levels increase the risk of developing fatty plaques that lodge in the vessels that carry blood toward the heart. High blood pressure also increases the resistance of blood vessels, which impedes normal blood flow to the heart tissues. Certain chemotherapeutic drugs, oral contraceptive pills, and anti-clotting medications may also alter normal circulation to the heart.

Non-modifiable factors also predispose an individual to developing cardiovascular problems. Positive family history has a tenfold increased risk of developing cardiovascular illnesses in all ages. Atrial fibrillation, which is characterized by abnormal heart rhythm, alters the normal pumping ability of the heart. This leads to abnormal pooling and clotting of blood, which may obstruct the vessels that transport blood to the heart. Aging also plays a pivotal role in contributing to the development of plaques that impede normal circulation of blood.

What Are the Symptoms of Coronary Heart Disease?

doctor checking blood pressure of patientInitial assessment of cardiovascular disease is performed through clinical history and physical examination by a physician. During the early stages of heart disease, you may experience chest heaviness that radiates into the upper back and left arm. This is associated with cold, clammy extremities, cold sweats, headache, and dizziness. Cardiovascular disease is confirmed through laboratory workup that involves electrocardiogram (ECG) and measurement of cardiac enzymes such as troponin, myoglobin, and creatine kinase. Elevated cardiac biomarkers through diagnostic testing are indicative of heart muscle damage, which is present in cardiovascular diseases.

What Is the Treatment for Heart Disease?

The management of coronary heart disease is focused on promoting blood flow to the heart, reducing vessel obstruction and preventing recurrence of another attack. An individual with an acute onset of chest pain due to a cardiovascular attack is started on pain relievers, oxygen, and blood thinners. This reduces oxygen demand of the heart, which promotes better circulation and energy conservation in order to prevent heart muscle damage.

Cardiovascular disease is a major cause of mortality among men and women of all ages. Therefore, it is crucial to undergo a routine physical examination, diagnostic testing, and laboratory workup to ensure early disease diagnosis and management.

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