The definition of heart disease is that in a variety of conditions the health and/or functioning ability of the heart muscle the veins, arteries or circulatory system is compromised. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States according to the American Heart Association and is a major cause of disability.
1.Even as recent as the early 1900's patients with heart disease had little hope and complete bed rest was often prescribed. During the 1920's a group of physicians began studies in Boston and New York to determine if patients with heart disease could safely go back to work. With these studies small heart association organizations began to be developed in a few major cities. These organizations performed many studies to learn more about the treatment of heart disease and began to form a national organization. In 1948 the American Heart Association went public with the information it had obtained. The organization has continued to grow and continues to provide research and education on the prevention and management of heart disease to both the medical community and the general public.
2.There are many conditions that fall under the title of heart disease. They include Coronary Artery Disease (CAD), heart attack, arrhythmias, high cholesterol, hypertension or high blood pressure, peripheral artery disease, congenital heart disease and heart failure.
3.The term Atherosclerosis is used to describe the plaque buildup and the resulting narrowing and hardening of the arteries. As this condition progresses the result is CAD. As the arteries become more narrow and hardened due to a build up of plaque on the inside of their walls, the heart receives less blood. Eventually the artery can become completely blocked. The plaque can also break off into smaller pieces and cause a clot. If the blood flow to the heart is restricted too much, the result is a heart attack. A heart attack occurs as the heart muscle is weakened by not receiving enough blood and the oxygen it carries and the heart cells begin to die.
Arrhythmia refers to a disorder that simply means the heart rhythm is irregular. Many people have them even through their heart is healthy and they go on with no interruption to their lives. However they should also be checked as in some cases they can signal underlying problems.
High blood pressure occurs when the heart has to beat faster to make up for the lower amount of blood and oxygen it is receiving because of narrowed and hardening arteries. Normal blood pressure is around 120/80 and high blood pressure is usually diagnosed when the reading becomes 140/90 or higher.
Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is also a narrowing and hardening of the arteries but with this condition the arteries affected are in the legs and pelvis. Even though a block or clogged artery here is far away from the heart it can still cause a heart attack or stroke.
Congenital Heart Disease refers to a heart defect that is present at birth. It occurs occurs when the heart or blood vessels near the heart don't develop normally before birth
The term heart failure is used when the heart is no longer able to pump like it should. This means the heart can not pump enough blood and oxygen to the body. When your cells do not receive adequate nutrients found in the blood, the body can not function properly.
4.Symptoms of heart disease are varied and can be different for men then women. With some conditions such as arrhythmia and high blood pressure or cholesterol levels there are no symptoms and the patient is unaware there is even a problem. In the case of PAD, there may be pain or cramping in the legs, foot wounds that do not heal or a decrease in temperature in the legs. Signs of a heart attack can include shortness of breath, pain or discomfort in the chest, jaw, neck, arms, shoulder or back, feeling light headed, dizzy or weak. In the case of heart failure there may be some of the above symptoms as well as persistent cough, swelling, nausea and many other symptoms.
5.The best thing you can do is to take steps to prevent heart disease by adopting healthy lifestyle habits. Eat a healthy diet low in saturated fats and cholesterol, maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, do not smoke and get regular checkups. You can still eat out by controlling your food choices on other days and all it takes is some exercise every day to help make a big change in your risk for heart disease. If you are having trouble getting started look into weight loss support groups and organizations. Check your local health club or community center for exercise classes.