A comprehensive list of today's common ailments and health conditions.

Heart Disease

By Angela Young

Heart disease is a common illness in America. Heart disease is the number one killer of women and men in the United States. Heart disease or cardiovascular disease is actually a compilation of several diseases such as coronary artery disease, heart failure, abnormal heart rhythms, and various other versions of heart muscle disease including congenital heart disease.

Heart disease has many causes including genetics, age and environmental factors, however the most common cause of heart disease relates to various lifestyle choices.

There are many treatment options for heart disease and the prognosis of many patients with heart disease continues to improve as the science of heart disease continues to improve.

Heart disease has many complications and many chronic lifestyle diseases are precursors to heart disease or can be complications of existing heart disease depending on the lifestyle disease in question.

Heart Disease Symptoms

Every form of heart disease has its own symptoms that present themselves, but they all have similar warning signs, so it is important to know what to watch for.

General symptoms of an impending heart failure include shortness of breath with an absence of activity, coughing which produces white mucus, swelling, weight gain of two to three pounds in a day, dizziness, fatigue, irregular heart beats, chest pain and nausea.

Symptoms of coronary artery disease include shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, sweating, heart palpitations and a fast heart rate. These symptoms repeat themselves in arrhythmias, but in addition patients may notice fainting, pounding in the chest and chest discomfort.

When it comes to heart attacks, the symptoms are similar to all the above symptoms with the exception of coughing up mucus. Additional symptoms of heart attack include heaviness in the chest and pain in the jaw, arm, back or throat.

Heart Disease Causes

The cause of heart disease is a combination of risk factors that add up to cause heart disease. The physicality of heart disease is due to one of a few causes. One is a build up of cholesterol, which blocks the blood flow to the heart. Another is a weak heart due to other contributing factors such as genetic issues and a generally weak cardiovascular system due any number of contributing factors.

Risk factors that lead to heart disease include obesity, smoking, lack of exercise, high fat diet, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, family history of heart disease and age.

Heart Disease Diagnosis

Diagnosis of heart disease involves a series of tests. There are physical test, which involve listening to the heart, checking blood pressure and general observation. Doctors may also suggest a stress test that will test the overall strength of the cardiovascular system. Other test will include blood tests to check for high cholesterol other telltale signs of heart disease. Doctors will likely have the patient get an electrocardiogram or EKG. Doctors may also request other imaging of the heart to get a complete picture and help to ensure an accurate diagnosis.

Heart Disease Treatment

Treatment for heart disease varies depending on what type of heart disease a patient has. Surgery may be necessary if a patient is at risk of a heart attack due to partially blocked or completely blocked arteries. Medications may be necessary to regulate a patient’s blood pressure or to help reduce the patient’s cholesterol.

Other treatments for heart disease are primarily lifestyle related. Doctors recommend patients with heart disease or risk factors for the development of heart disease achieve a health body weight, begin an exercise routine and make healthy diet choices.

Sometimes the lifestyle changes alone are enough to improve the prognosis of someone with heart disease or someone with risk factors for developing heart disease make medication unnecessary.

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