#KnowTheDisease: Everything you need to know about cardiovascular diseases
Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the types of diseases that affect the heart and blood vessels, including coronary heart disease (clogged arteries), which can cause heart attacks, stroke, congenital heart disease, and peripheral artery disease. Every year, 17.7 million people die from CVDs, an estimated 31% of all deaths worldwide. Tobacco use, unhealthy diet, alcohol, and physical inactivity trigger CVDs. Here's more on CVDs.
CVD deaths mostly occur in low-income, middle-income countries
While CVDs account for an estimated 31% of all deaths worldwide, over 75% of CVD deaths occur in low-income and middle-income countries. 80% of all CVD deaths are due to heart attacks and strokes. Here, we discuss different types of CVDs.
'Coronary artery disease' reduces blood flow to the heart muscle
Coronary artery diseases (CAD) are a common form of cardiovascular disease affecting the arteries that supply the heart muscle with blood. In this type of CVD, the blood flow through the coronary arteries is obstructed, reducing blood flow to the heart muscle. The most common cause of such obstructions is a condition called atherosclerosis, a largely preventable type of vascular disease.
'Heart attack' causes injury to heart muscle
A heart attack is an injury to the heart muscle caused by the loss of blood supply. It usually occurs when a blood clot blocks the flow of blood through a coronary artery, a blood vessel that feeds blood to a part of the heart muscle. Interrupted blood flow to your heart can damage or destroy a part of the heart muscle.
'Cardiomyopathy', mostly a genetic heart disorder
Cardiomyopathy means a disease of the heart muscle that makes it difficult for the heart to pump blood to the rest of your body. Some types of cardiomyopathy are genetic. Types of cardiomyopathy include ischemic, caused by loss of heart muscle from reduced coronary blood flow; dilated, which means the heart chambers are enlarged; and hypertrophic, which means the heart muscle is thickened.
'Congenital heart disease' develops before the birth
Congenital heart disease (CHD) refers to a form of heart deformities that develop before birth. It can affect the heart muscle formation. Examples include septal defects in which there's a hole between two chambers of the heart and obstruction defects in which the blood flow through various heart chambers is partially or totally blocked. Notably, only some CHDs are apparent at the birth time.
'Heart failure': Heart can't pump enough blood to body parts
Heart failure is a condition in which the heart can't pump enough blood to meet the needs of your body's organs and tissues. With this less effective pumping, vital organs don't get enough blood, causing symptoms such as shortness of breath, fluid retention, and fatigue. It may occur as a result of other cardiovascular conditions that have damaged the heart, like CAD or cardiomyopathy.
'Stroke' occurs when blood flow to brain is interrupted
A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted (ischemic stroke) or when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures (hemorrhagic stroke). Either can cause the death of brain cells in affected areas. Stroke is also considered a neurological disorder because of the many complications it causes. Other forms of cardiovascular diseases, such as high blood pressure, increase the risk of stroke.
What can you do to protect yourself from cardiovascular diseases?
There are many risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, and making healthy choices can help protect your heart. Some prevention tips include: managing high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure, eating healthy, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, managing stress, and not smoking among others.