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7 common cardiovascular diseases decoded

Cardiovascular diseases are conditions that affect your heart functions such as pumping blood throughout the body and supplying nutrients and oxygen. © Shutterstock

While a new research has revealed that working in shifts can increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease, here we give you a low-down on the common conditions that this umbrella term covers.

Written by Juhi Kumari |Published : April 1, 2019 3:55 PM IST

Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) claim at least 17.9 million lives every year, which is around 31 per cent of all global deaths, say WHO estimates. The figures are alarming and the causes are not unknown to us. However, a new culprit behind cardiovascular diseases has been spotted by a recent study. This new research, published in the journal Occupational Medicine, has revealed that people who work in shifts are at an increased danger of falling prey to cardiac ailments and the risk keeps going up as the number of 'night-shift' years add up. During the research, the scientists analyzed 21 earlier data of more than 3,20,000 people without any disease and around 20,000 cases of coronary heart disease.

Cardiovascular diseases are conditions that affect your heart functions such as pumping blood throughout the body, supplying nutrients and oxygen, and filtering carbon dioxide from the blood. The diseases that CVD collectively refers to include heart failure, stroke, heart attack, abnormal heart rhythm, valve issues, blood vessel diseases, etc. If you are suffering from any cardiac disease, symptoms like heart pain, shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, indigestion, back pain, and disrupted sleep will be persistent. There are various factors that can increase your risk of developing these diseases including smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, family history of the disease, and obesity. Here, we decode 7 common types of cardiovascular diseases.

Ischemic heart disease

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It refers to a medical condition in which the blood flow and oxygen supply to the heart muscles get reduced due to narrowed arteries. This occurs because of fatty plaque deposition inside them, leading to blockage at times. A partial blockage in the coronary arteries can reduce the supply of oxygenated blood causing symptoms like chest pain and shortness of breath. However, a complete blockage can cause damage to the tissues or a heart attack. Apart from chest pain and shortness of breath, there could be other symptoms too: Weakness, nausea, and persistent cold sweat. Age, family history of the disease, and heart attack can raise your risk of getting Ischemic heart disease.

Heart attack or myocardial infarction

When your arteries clog or narrow down significantly, blood flow to the heart is blocked completely. This condition is known as heart attack or myocardial infarction and the classic symptom is chest pain. Due to lack of blood flow, the heart muscles are robbed off the oxygen that they need, which, in turn, leads their tissues to die. The extent of tissue damage, however, is dependent on the length of the attack. Apart from chest pain, a myocardial infarction is characterised by upper body pain, cold sweats, irregular heartbeat, unexplained fatigue, etc.

Heart failure

It is a chronic condition in which your heart muscles become unable to pump blood efficiently causing oxygen and blood deficiency in the body. This occurs due to heart damage done by conditions like coronary artery disease (decreased blood flow to the heart muscles due to blockage in the arteries), heart attack, cardiomyopathy (damage of heart muscle due to infection, alcohol, or drug), high blood pressure, and any valve disease. Patients with heart failure experience symptoms like shortness of breath, congested lungs, swollen ankles, weight gain, irregular heartbeats, fatigue, and weakness. This condition is basically of two types, namely systolic dysfunction and diastolic dysfunction. The former occurs when your heart muscle becomes weak enough to contract properly leading to less oxygen-rich blood flow in the body whereas, the latter happens when the ventricles (lower chambers of the heart) become stiff and do not relax properly reducing the amount of blood entering the heart.

Cerebrovascular disease

This term consists of two words: Cerebro which means a larger part of the brain and vascular which refers to arteries and veins. Cerebrovascular disease is a condition in which the blood circulation in the vessels of the brain gets either restricted or reduced due to damage in the arteries, affecting a part of your brain temporarily or permanently. It is characterized by heart attack and bleeding. Some of the cerebrovascular diseases includes stroke, carotid stenosis (narrowing of the carotid arteries that transport oxygen-rich blood to the brain), vertebral stenosis (narrowing of the spaces within your spine), and intracranial stenosis (narrowing of a brain artery that can cause stroke), aneurysm (weakening of an artery wall creating a bulge), and vascular malformations (a growth composed of blood vessels that can cause functional or cosmetic problems).

Peripheral vascular disease (PVD)

It is a condition that affects the blood circulation primarily in your limbs. It occurs due to the narrowing or blockage of arteries that supply blood to heart and brain. the culprit behind the blockage is plaque build-up outside those arteries. Elevated blood cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, hypertension, inactivity, and obesity can increase your risk of developing peripheral vascular disease. If you are suffering from this condition, you will experience symptoms like numbness in your legs, sores on your feet, change in limb colour, hair loss, weak pulse, and shiny skin on legs. Peripheral vascular disease also increases your risk of developing critical limb ischemia (shortness of oxygen in limb tissues), heart attack, and stroke. PVD can be categorised as It is basically of organic and functional. Organic PVD is basically a change in your blood vessels due to plaque deposition, inflammation, or tissue damage. However, functional PVD is the term for decreased blood flow in the vessels caused due to brain signals or changes in body temperature. This condition doesn t do any damage to the blood vessels. Intermittent claudication (pain in the calf muscles while walking) is the most common peripheral artery disease.

Rheumatic heart disease

It is a cluster of acute and chronic disorders related to the heart, that occurs due to rheumatic fever (an inflammatory disease that can affect connective tissues throughout the body). It can cause damage to your heart valves leading to valve disorder at a later stage. Though rheumatic fever can affect people of all ages, it is commonly seen in children between the age bracket of 5 and 15 years. Rheumatic heart disease is characterized by chest pain, heart palpitations, excessive fatigue, a thumping sensation in the chest, shortness of breath, swollen ankles, wrists or stomach.

Congenital heart disease

It refers to a heart problem that occurs due to a birth defect. There are around 24 types of congenital heart disease. They may occur either because of a small hole in the inside wall of the heart or because of reduced blood flow in the heart and lungs. These conditions can potentially lead to death or disable you in varying degrees. The symptoms vary, depending on the type of congenital disorder you are suffering from. It can potentially affect your heart structures, tissues.

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