Six Most Common Heart Diseases In The Modern Era
Heart problems have become the foremost cause of death in India. According to the World Health Organisation, India accounts for one-fifth of deaths related to heart problems. Many risk factors like poor nutrition balance, smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol have been linked to heart problems. The most common heart diseases like heart failure and heart attacks are highly prevalent in developing countries. Let us find out the most common diseases in this fist-sized organ.
Most Common Heart Diseases
1. Congenital Heart Disease:
Congenital heart disease are defects in the formation of the heart and surrounding blood vessels at the time of birth. This defect affects the structure of the heart and blood circulation. About 25 percent of congenital heart diseases are said to be critical. In some cases, the heart disease may not show symptoms until adult life or may be detected accidentally during physical examinations.
Congenital heart disease occurs when the mother gets exposed to toxic substances, certain infections or medicines during pregnancy. At birth, the most common heart diseases include septal abnormalities, pulmonary stenosis, and premature closure of ductus arteriosus.
Septal abnormalities refer to holes in the wall that separate the heart's left and right sides. Pulmonary stenosis is a condition of decreased blood flow to the lungs. It can be surgically corrected by opening or replacing the valve. The ductus arteriosus is a heart muscle that supports the blood circulation of the fetus. If it closes prematurely, it leads to more significant pressure on the heart due to volume overload. It increases the blood pressure of the fetus.
2. Rheumatic Heart Disease:
Rheumatic heart disease is one of the most common heart diseases due to heart valves and muscle problems. The muscles and valves of the heart get damaged due to rheumatic fever. Rheumatic fever mainly occurs in children in developing countries due to bacterial infection that produces symptoms similar to tonsillitis or throat infection. Rheumatic fever causes scars and inflammation in the heart valves, resulting in rheumatic heart disease.
3. Heart Failure:
Heart failure or congestive cardiac failure is the inability of the heart to pump blood at the required speed. Cardiac failure does not imply that the heart stops working altogether. Still, fluid starts accumulating around the lungs and other organs due to inadequate functioning, making it difficult for you to breathe. Heart failure may result from other heart problems, obesity, kidney failure, lung problems, sleep apnea, etc.
4. Coronary Artery Disease:
Coronary artery disease refers to discomfort due to several blockages in the heart vessels that supply blood, which gives you severe chest pain or heart attack. ST-segment elevated myocardial infarction and angina pectoris are two of the most common heart diseases reported due to damage in the coronary arteries.
The blockages in the coronary arteries begin when the arteries harden and narrow down due to a condition called atherosclerosis. This condition obstructs the blood flow to your heart and lowers the oxygen supply essential for adequate blood pumping. When sufficient blood flow to the heart does not occur, it leads to angina (severe chest pain) or heart attack.
a) Angina Pectoris:
Angina refers to a temporary pain or pressure in the chest when the heart muscle is not receiving sufficient oxygen. Severe anemia is a risk factor for angina. Red blood cells and haemoglobin are essential for transporting oxygen to the heart. Hence it is vital to check your blood values at regular intervals if you have anemia. Angina is treated using medications that lower cholesterol (statins), blood pressure (beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers), dilate blood vessels (nitrates) and blood thinners (aspirin, clopidogrel). In severe cases, coronary bypass surgery is recommended.
b) St-Segment Elevated Myocardial Infarction:
ST-segment elevated myocardial infarction is the medical term for heart attack. It occurs when the heart muscle does not receive sufficient oxygen to pump blood. This occurs due to the deposition of fat, cholesterol and other substances in the heart's arteries that obstructs blood flow, resulting in an attack.
Stroke or cerebrovascular disease refers to the damage of the blood vessels that supply blood to the brain. It is of two types; ischaemic and haemorrhagic stroke. High blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose and continuous tobacco use are associated with the greater risk of stroke. Stroke kills nearly 6 million people per year. Most of the deaths are from developing countries due to insufficient access to healthcare.
Arrhythmia refers to the irregular beating pattern of the heart. Our heart has electrical properties that produce signals to determine the heart rate. When this electrical functioning of the heart is not proper, the heart beats either too fast or too slow. Typically, the heart rate increases during exercise and slows down during sleep. However, this is not the case with heart arrhythmia, and sometimes, the irregularity in a heartbeat can be life-threatening.
Care For Your Heart & Stay Young At Heart
Since heart problems are on the rise in our country, following certain precautions for your health is essential. Discuss with your healthcare practitioner regarding your heart health and find ways to make your lifestyle heart-healthy. If you have diabetes or high cholesterol, take the necessary steps to keep them in control and visit your physician regularly for health check-ups. Do not delay or hesitate to contact your healthcare provider if you sense any discomfort.