Understanding Cardiovascular Disease
Cardiovascular disease, also known as heart disease, is the number one cause of death in the US alone. Across the globe, cardiovascular disease affects millions of people every year. Cardiovascular disease includes many different types of conditions. All types affect the way the heart functions, and can be serious conditions.
Fortunately, you can reduce or eliminate your risk factors for most of the common types of cardiovascular disease.
For the most part, cardiovascular disease is caused by a number of risk factors. These factors can be broadly grouped into two categories: controllable and uncontrollable.
Controllable risk factors are those which you can take steps to change or influence.
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
Uncontrollable risk factors are those which you cannot influence.
- Family history
While having multiple risk factors can increase your chance of developing cardiovascular disease, having only one does not mean you are ‘safe’. Any single risk factor can increase your likelihood of developing CVD.
Common Types of Cardiovascular Disease
There are many types of cardiovascular disease. These can broadly be grouped into five categories. Some types can fall under multiple classifications.
Cerebrovascular Heart Disease
Cerebrovascular heart disease involves blood vessels and blood supply to the brain. The normal flow of blood is impeded, and may cause damage or death as a result.
- Cerebral vascular disease
- Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIA)
Hypertensive Heart Disease
Consistently high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, forces blood through the heart and veins at an excessively high rate. Over time, this can overburden the heart and lead to multiple problems, including cardiovascular disease. Hypertension may result from an unknown source, kidney infection or disease, adrenal gland tumors, and other diseases.
- Peripheral arterial disease
Inflammatory Heart Disease
As the name suggests, inflammatory heart disease is inflammation which affects the heart muscle, inner lining within the heart, or sac surrounding the heart. Inflammation can occur from infectious agents such as viruses or bacteria, or other toxic agents from the environment, including pollution, food, water, and more.
- Peripheral Arterial Disease
- Valvular Heart Disease (also known as heart valve disease)
Ischemic Heart Disease
Ischemic heart disease occurs when the coronary arteries narrow, and the heart does not receive an adequate supply of blood.
- Coronary artery disease
- Coronary heart disease
- Heart attack
Rheumatic Heart Disease
Rheumatic heart disease results from rheumatic fever, a fever which occurs especially in younger people. Rheumatic fever can damage the heart muscle and valves.
- Rheumatic heart disease
- Valvular heart disease (also known as heart valve disease)
Other Types of Cardiovascular Disease
Other types of heart disease include arrhythmia, congenital heart defects, heart failure, and more. You can learn more about types of cardiovascular diseases here.
Reducing Your Risk Factors for a Healthier Future
Keeping your heart healthy will help ensure that you can enjoy a long and active future. Uncontrollable risk factors cannot be changed; however, there are many ways to change or improve your controllable risk factors.
- Reconsider your diet. Diets high in fats, sodium, sugar, and excessive calories contribute to an unhealthy heart. Instead, opt for diets which focus on whole grains, vegetables, healthy oils, lean meats and fish, and other heart-healthy options. The American Heart Association has great advice when it comes to choosing a heart-healthy diet.
- If you smoke, consider giving it up. Smoking cessation is not only good for your heart, it’s good for your overall health, as well as the health of those around you.
- Exercise regularly, and maintain a healthy weight. High blood pressure and blood cholesterol are two major factors when it comes to developing cardiovascular disease. Regular exercise naturally helps keep both of these in check, and improves your weight too!
- Reduce your stress levels. In today’s fast-paced world, it’s not uncommon to find more and more people being diagnosed with hypertension. Reduce your stress levels by exercising regularly, meditating, practicing yoga, or simply taking time out of every day to do something you love. This will help bring your blood pressure down to a normal level and reduce your chance of stroke.
- Limit your alcohol consumption. A drink every now and then doesn’t hurt, and some research even suggests that it may have heart-protective benefits. However, regularly drinking in excess can lead to high blood pressure, cardiomyopathy, stroke, and more.
Cardiovascular Disease Experts at Florida Medical Clinic
Have questions or concerns about your heart’s health? Florida Medical Clinic’s Vascular Lab specializes in detecting the early signs of cardiovascular disease, while our Cardiology Department treats cardiovascular disease with a wide range of outpatient services.
A healthy, well-functioning heart is key to a long and happy life. It’s never too late to reduce your risk factors for cardiovascular disease, and Florida Medical Clinic is here to help!