Heart disease is the collective name given to the variety of diseases that affect the heart. Heart diseases are characterized by circulation problems, problems with the myocardium, or heart muscle, and in rare cases hereditary causes. While there are many risk factors for heart disease, no one can effectively determine what causes heart disease. What is however certain, is that heart disease is not impartial to race, age, or weight, and it is a silent killer. The most common type of heart disease is coronary heart disease.
Risk factors to heart disease
Some risk factors include:
- Drinking alcohol
- Hyperlipidaemia- excess cholesterol in the blood
Types of heart disease
Coronary heart disease
In this disease there is an inadequate supply of blood circulation to the myocardium, or heart muscle, and the tissues that surround the muscle. The condition is caused by smoking, diabetes, and other lifestyle habits, and diseases, and can be curbed by changing these habits. Surgical interventions can be made in many ways, including putting in a stents, or artificial blood vessels where the circulation block may be occurring.
Ischaemic heart disease
This is characterized by reduced, or inadequate blood circulation to the heart, and may be caused by coronary artery disease. The risk of ischemia is heightened with the practice of lifestyle vices such as smoking, lack of exercise, diabetes, and high cholesterol. Increasing age is also a contributing factor. Ischaemic heart disease is diagnosed by the presence of stable angina (when the patient experiences chest pains, if they exert force such as walking up a flight of stairs), acute chest pain (unstable angina), and heart failure.
Coronary artery disease
Coronary artery disease also commonly known as atherosclerotic heart disease is a build up of plaque in the coronary artery. The coronary artery supplies the myocardium with oxygen via blood circulation. The build up of plaque in this artery causes a blockage, and decreases the available oxygen supplied to the heart muscle. In addition to a blockage, the atheromatous plaques may rupture, and the lipid substances contained in the plaque, can break off, travel in the blood vessels, and form clots anywhere. This disease is hard to diagnose, and may be prevented with proper diet, and regular exercise.
Hypertensive heart disease
Hypertensive heart disease, or hypertension is characterized by a chronic heightening of the diastolic, and systolic blood pressure above normal blood pressure (that is above 120/80 mm Hg). There are two types of hypertension; secondary, and essential. Secondary hypertension is caused by an identifiable underlying cause, and affects significantly less people than essential hypertension. Essential hypertension has no identifiable cause, but affects 95% of all hypertensive patients. Risk factors include; hypokalaemia (low potassium blood levels), smoking, obesity, increasing age, high alcohol intake, water retention caused by sodium sensitivity,and genetic factors. A person’s risk of hypertension, increases if a family member has had the disease, and increases even more if that family member is an immediate relative.