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Heart or cardiovascular disease is a collective name for a range of ailments that affect the normal functioning of the heart. These ailments include heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias), blood vessel diseases (coronary artery disease) and heart problems existing at birth (congenital heart defects). Other defects that affect the cardiac muscles of the heart, heart beat rhythm or blood vessel of the heart are also regarded as heart diseases. The heart is a muscular organ that mainly functions to pump blood through blood vessels to all parts of the body. As such, any alteration in the normal functioning of a healthy heart can result in disastrous implications, or even death.
Heart disease is the leading cause of deaths in the whole world. Among all forms of heart disease, the leading cause of loss of lives is usually the coronary heart disease (CHD). In the United States, heart disease accounts for 1 in every four deaths and CHD is estimated to cause around 380,000 deaths annually. In addition, 720,000 Americans experience heart attacks annually. The United States government incurs a total of $108.9 billion each year on costs related to health care services, drugs and lost productivity. These statistics clearly show that heart disease is a real threat to many lives and is very costly.
Heart conditions manifest themselves mainly through heart attacks, heart failures and angina (chest pains). Other symptoms are nausea, irregular heartbeat and shortness of breath. They are caused by blockage or interruption of valves in the heart, effectively interfering with supply of oxygen to the heart muscles. The predisposing factors of heart disease include high blood pressure, smoking, elevated levels of LDL cholesterol, leading a sedentary lifestyle, diabetes, obesity, age, sex, ethnic background and genetic predisposition from family history of heart disease.
It is advisable that one seeks medical attention once these symptoms appear before it becomes fatal. Heart disease, although incurable, can be managed by medications. Early diagnosis by going for regular check-ups for things like blood cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels and blood pressure goes a long way in saving a lot of money and preventing loss of lives. One’s lifestyle is crucial in the prevention and management of heart diseases. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that everybody, whether young or old, practices a healthy lifestyle by eating a healthy diet, doing exercises regularly and quitting unhealthy habits such as cigarette smoking.
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