Causes and prevention of Heart problems

Causes and prevention of Heart problems


Quick Overview

What is Heart disease?

Heart disease refers to a group of conditions that affect your heart. Heart diseases include the following:

  • Valve disease of the heart
  • Muscle disease of the heart
  • Coronary artery disease, for example, is a type of blood vessel disease.
  • Heart rhythm issues (arrhythmias)
  • Birth defects in the heart (congenital heart defects)
  • Infection of the heart

Early Symptoms

Heart disease symptoms depend on what type of heart disease you have.

Symptoms of heart disease in your blood vessels;

Atherosclerosis (ath-ur-o-skluh-ROE-sis) is a buildup of fatty plaques in your arteries that can harm your blood vessels and heart. Plaque buildup causes blood vessels to become narrowed or blocked, which can result in a heart attack, chest pain (angina), or stroke.

Men and women may experience different symptoms of coronary artery disease. Men, for example, are more likely to experience chest pain. Along with chest discomfort, women are more likely to experience shortness of breath, nausea, and extreme fatigue.

Signs and symptoms can include:

  • Breathing difficulty
  • Pain in the chest, tightness in the chest, pressure in the chest, and discomfort in the chest (angina)
  • If the blood vessels in your legs or arms are narrowed, you may experience pain, numbness, weakness, or coldness.
  • Neck, jaw, throat, upper abdomen, or back pain

Coronary artery disease may not be detected until you have a heart attack, angina, stroke, or heart failure. It's critical to keep an eye out for cardiovascular symptoms and discuss any concerns with your doctor. Regular evaluations can sometimes detect cardiovascular disease early.

Heart disease symptoms caused by abnormal heartbeats (heart arrhythmias)

Your heartbeat may be too fast, too slow, or irregular. Signs and symptoms of heart arrhythmia include:

  • Fluttering in your chest
  • Racing heartbeat (tachycardia)
  • Slow heartbeat (bradycardia)
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting (syncope) or near fainting

Heart disease symptoms caused by heart defects

Serious heart defects that you're born with (congenital heart defects) usually are noticed soon after birth. Heart defect signs and symptoms in children could include:

  • Pale gray or blue skin color (cyanosis)
  • Swelling in the legs, abdomen or areas around the eyes
  • In an infant, shortness of breath during feedings, leading to poor weight gain

Less serious congenital heart defects are often not diagnosed until later in childhood or during adulthood. Signs and symptoms of congenital heart defects that usually aren't immediately life-threatening include:

  • Easily getting short of breath during exercise or activity
  • Easily tiring during exercise or activity
  • Swelling in the hands, ankles or feet

Heart disease symptoms caused by diseased heart muscle (cardiomyopathy)

In the early stages of cardiomyopathy, you may have no symptoms. As the condition worsens, symptoms may include:

  • Breathlessness with activity or at rest
  • Swelling of the legs, ankles and feet
  • Fatigue
  • Irregular heartbeats that feel rapid, pounding or fluttering
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness and fainting

Heart disease symptoms caused by heart infection

Endocarditis is an infection that affects the inner lining of your heart chambers and heart valves (endocardium). Heart infection signs and symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Swelling in your legs or abdomen
  • Changes in your heart rhythm
  • Dry or persistent cough
  • Skin rashes or unusual spots

Heart disease symptoms caused by heart valve problems (valvular heart disease)

The aortic, mitral, pulmonary, and tricuspid valves of the heart open and close to direct blood flow through your heart. Many factors can cause heart valve damage, resulting in narrowing (stenosis), leaking (regurgitation or insufficiency), or improper closing (prolapse).

Valvular heart disease signs and symptoms vary depending on which valve isn't working properly.

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Swollen feet or ankles
  • Chest pain
  • Fainting (syncope)

When to see a doctor

Seek emergency medical care if you have these heart disease signs and symptoms:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fainting

If you suspect you are having a heart attack, call 911 or an emergency medical service.

Early detection of heart disease makes treatment easier, so discuss your concerns about your heart health with your doctor. If you're worried about developing heart disease, talk to your doctor about ways you can lower your risk. This is especially important if you have a history of heart disease in your family.

Make an appointment with your doctor if you suspect you have heart disease based on new signs or symptoms.

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