It’s the number one killer of men and women in much of the world. In fact, heart disease is more deadly than all types of cancer combined. The sad thing about heart disease is that many times it’s largely preventable and treatable by healthy lifestyle choices.
Anyone who’s overweight, has diabetes, eats a poor diet, is physically inactive, smokes, and drinks heavily is at an increased risk for heart disease. Wonder if you’re at risk? Here are five types of heart disease, a brief description of each, and their warning signs. Do your heart a favor and read up on how you can give it a few more beats!
Coronary Artery Disease
Caused by the buildup of plaque in the arteries that supply blood to your heart, coronary artery disease (also known as CAD) can reduce the amount of oxygen that reaches your heart. The most common symptom of coronary artery disease is angina, which causes pain, discomfort, and pressure in your chest that may radiate to your arms, shoulders, neck, back, or jaw. Other symptoms include an irregular heartbeat, a rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, dizziness, weakness, sweating, and nausea.
Sometimes the heart’s electrical system fails to work properly and the heart may beat too slowly, too quickly, or irregularly. This is known as an arrhythmia. A lack of consistent blood flow may damage the heart, brain, or other organs. You’ll likely feel a flutter or an irregular heartbeat with this condition. Arrhythmia may feel like the heart is missing beats or beating at an unusual speed. The condition gets more dangerous when it causes symptoms like dizziness, fainting, weakness, anxiety, sweating, chest pain, or shortness of breath.
When blood flow is cut off to the heart due to coronary artery disease, be ready to suffer a heart attack. A lack of oxygen to the heart can cause parts of it to die, thus making a heart attack an extreme emergency. The most frequent symptoms of heart attack include chest pain, pressure, or squeezing. Sometimes it feels like heartburn or indigestion. The discomfort may extend into your arms, neck, shoulders, back, or jaw. You may also experience shortness of breath, anxiety, fatigue, lightheadedness, nausea, or break out in a cold sweat. Symptoms vary and usually last at least 30 minutes during which emergency medical attention is vital. And be warned that women often experience atypical signs of a heart attack, so don’t ignore odd symptoms.
Heart Valve Disease
Your heart has four valves, and when one or more of them isn’t functioning properly you may have heart valve disease. This condition makes your heart work overtime and may reduce blood flow to your body. The top symptom of heart valve disease is an unusual sound called a heart murmur that your doctor can detect through a stethoscope. Other signs of a valve disease include fatigue; irregular heartbeat; shortness of breath; pressure in your chest; and swelling in your feet, ankles, legs, belly, or neck veins.
Heart failure sounds like the heart has quit or is about to stop, but it actually refers to a gradual weakening of the heart. As the heart weakens, it’s unable to effectively pump oxygenated blood to the body, and fluid builds up. Common signs of heart failure include fatigue; dizziness; shortness of breath; chest pain; and swelling in the feet, ankles, legs, belly, and neck. You may also experience frequent urination, a cough at night, and unexplained weight gain.
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