Heart disease is not a single disorder or condition. It refers to a group of diseases or problems in which the heart or the vessels supplying blood to the heart are damaged and are not able to function in a normal way. For several years, it was believed that heart diseases occur in older people. But now-a-days, heart diseases are quite common in young adults, mainly because of sedentary lifestyle and poor eating habits. Heart diseases take years to progress and may begin to develop at a very young age. However, most people do not show any symptoms of heart diseases before they reach their 50s or 60s. Read about heart disease in India — 6 shocking facts you should know.
Some types of heart defects are present at birth. These are called congenital heart diseases. Other more common heart diseases include coronary heart disease, hypertension, stroke and peripheral arterial disease. The most common cause of heart diseases is atherosclerosis and hypertension/high blood pressure. Atherosclerosis is a condition in which there is deposition of cholesterol and fatty substances on the walls of arteries, while hypertension is the elevation of blood pressure in the arteries due various reasons.
There are several factors that increase the risk of heart diseases and associated conditions. These include age, gender, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and stress. Factors like weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels can be controlled by making dietary and lifestyle changes to significantly improve cardiovascular health. Few changes include eating a low fat, high fibre diet with fruits and veggies, quitting smoking, giving up alcohol, increasing physical activity and reducing stress.