Cardiovascular disease or CVD is a primary health concern on a global scale. Conditions that fall into this category are responsible for nearly half of all non-communicable disease, making CVD the number one cause of death worldwide. Being well-informed of the many causes and risk factors of heart disease and what is being done to improve awareness can help one better identify heart conditions in themselves and others.
Only through greater knowledge of heart disease and supporting each other can we achieve better heart health for all.
Getting the Word Out
Heart disease is a global epidemic, which affects millions of people. In May of 2012, world leaders came together and vowed to reduce mortality at the hands of non-communicable disease. Their goal is to lower the mortality rate by 25% on a global scale by the year 2025. One of the ways this may be achieved is through improving awareness of CVD.
The Importance of Awareness
As mentioned above, CVD is the primary cause of death on a global scale and accounts for 17.5 million deaths annually. Cardiovascular disease encompasses any disease involving the heart, vascular disease of the brain, or disease associated with blood vessels. The most recognized and common forms of CVD are heart attack and stroke. Weakened arteries, veins, or heart muscles can all result in heart malfunction leading to heart attack and stroke. If one is informed and takes proper precautions, there is much that can be done to reduce the risk of experiencing these harmful cardiac events.
Unfortunately, many do not get diagnosed for CVD until they have already had a heart attack or stroke. It is a much better alternative to be aware of the signs and symptoms of cardiovascular stress and respond to them accordingly. By paying close attention to one’s body and seeking out appropriate medical evaluation one can help prevent the occurrence of heart disease.
Listening to The Heart
Symptoms of heart disease can manifest in different ways. For example, men tend to experience chest pain whereas women are more likely to have nausea, shortness of breath, chest discomfort, and severe fatigue. Depending on one’s individual level of health and associated conditions, they may experience some of the following symptoms in different degrees.
- Periodic pressure in the chest
- Slowed, increased, or irregular heartbeats
- Pain located in the upper body, back, or jaw
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling of legs, ankles or feet
- Difficulty speaking
- Drooping face
- Shortness of breath
- Cold sweats
- Loss of sensation in the extremities
Prior to the development of serious symptoms, one may be able to gauge their own risk for heart disease by familiarizing themselves with many of the common causes of CVD.
Contributing Factors of Heart Disease
There are many contributing conditions that can inhibit heart function thereby increasing the risk of developing heart disease. Being aware of the various risk factors in one’s own life may help one better identify and respond to CVD.
Those with a family history of heart disease have a notably greater risk of developing coronary artery disease. This risk is further increased if a family member developed a heart condition at an early age. Early is defined as before the age of 55 for men and under the age of 65 for women. Being familiar with the health and wellness of one’s family can help a person identify their individual risk of heart disease.
Obesity and a lack of physical activity can increase the risk of heart disease and other conditions that contribute to poor heart health. Furthermore, those who follow an unhealthy diet that contains high levels of fat, salt, sugar, and cholesterol may be unwittingly increasing their risk of heart disease. Those with diets particularly high in cholesterol are far more likely to have plaque form in their arteries and develop atherosclerosis (hardening or narrowing of the arteries).
Hormones play an important part in overall health. They are particularly impactful regarding the heart. Multiple studies have found that reduced testosterone levels are directly associated with the occurrence of heart disease. This is partially why men have a greater risk of developing CVD and have a higher mortality rate regarding heart disease. Similarly, women with reduced testosterone and estrogen levels are more likely to develop heart problems.
Unsurprisingly, because hormones are integral to heart health, the thyroid also has a significant impact on the heart. Those with an underactive thyroid, also known as hypothyroidism, produce too little thyroid hormone, which can cause the heart to beat slowly or irregularly.
Recognizing and properly treating conditions such as thyroid disorders, diabetes, hormonal imbalances, high cholesterol and other contributors can help prevent heart disease. In addition to negatively impacting one’s health in their own unique ways, these conditions harm heart function thereby reducing bodily function. Many heart detractors reduce cardiovascular efficacy which inhibits oxygen and nutrients from arriving at necessary locations throughout the body.
Follow Your Heart
Because cardiovascular disease is such an impactful and unforgiving condition it is important that we understand it as thoroughly as possible. By pursuing knowledge and working together to support those within our communities we can help reduce the impact of cardiovascular disease worldwide.