What is Cardiovascular Disease?

Cardiovascular disease can refer to a number of conditions:

Heart disease

Heart and blood vessel disease (also called heart disease) includes numerous problems, many of which are related to a process called atherosclerosis.

 

Atherosclerosis is a condition that develops when a substance called plaque builds up in the walls of the arteries. This buildup narrows the arteries, making it harder for blood to flow through. If a blood clot forms, it can block the blood flow. This can cause a heart attack or stroke.

Heart attack

A heart attack occurs when the blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked by a blood clot. If this clot cuts off the blood flow completely, the part of the heart muscle supplied by that artery begins to die.

 

Most people survive their first heart attack and return to their normal lives, enjoying many more years of productive activity. But experiencing a heart attack does mean that you need to make some changes.

 

The medications and lifestyle changes that your doctor recommends may vary according to how badly your heart was damaged, and to what degree of heart disease caused the heart attack.

Stroke

An ischemic stroke (the most common type of stroke) occurs when a blood vessel that feeds the brain gets blocked, usually from a blood clot.

 

When the blood supply to a part of the brain is cut off, some brain cells will begin to die. This can result in the loss of functions controlled by that part of the brain, such as walking or talking.

A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel within the brain bursts. This is most often caused by uncontrolled hypertension (high blood pressure).

 

Some effects of stroke are permanent if too many brain cells die after being starved of oxygen. These cells are never replaced.

 

The good news is that sometimes brain cells don’t die during stroke — instead, the damage is temporary. Over time, as injured cells repair themselves, previously impaired function improves. (In other cases, undamaged brain cells nearby may take over for the areas of the brain that were injured.)

 

Either way, strength may return, speech may get better and memory may improve. This recovery process is what stroke rehabilitation is all about.

Heart failure

Heart failure, sometimes called congestive heart failure, means the heart isn’t pumping blood as well as it should. Heart failure does not mean that the heart stops beating — that’s a common misperception. Instead, the heart keeps working, but the body’s need for blood and oxygen isn’t being met.

 

Heart failure can get worse if left untreated. If your loved one has heart failure, it’s very important to follow the doctor’s orders..

Arrhythmia

Arrhythmia refers to an abnormal heart rhythm. There are various types of arrhythmias. The heart can beat too slow, too fast or irregularly.

 

Bradycardia, or a heart rate that’s too slow, is when the heart rate is less than 60 beats per minute. Tachycardia, or a heart rate that’s too fast, refers to a heart rate of more than 100 beats per minute.

 

An arrhythmia can affect how well your heart works. With an irregular heartbeat, your heart may not be able to pump enough blood to meet your body’s needs.

Heart valve problems

When heart valves don’t open enough to allow the blood to flow through as it should, a condition called stenosis results. When the heart valves don’t close properly and thus allow blood to leak through, it’s called regurgitation. If the valve leaflets bulge or prolapse back into the upper chamber, it’s a condition called prolapse.

What are the symptoms of chest pain?

Chest pain can be caused by your heart, but many people don’t know that chest pain can stem from your lungs, muscles, nerves, and more. If you’re suffering from chest pain, Dr. Beheshtian can help. With a physical examination, she narrows down the cause of your pain and proposes a treatment plan.

 

The symptoms of chest pain depend on the cause. Chest pain can develop anywhere from your neck to your upper abdomen. In some cases, people suffering from heart attacks feel pain in their arms. Chest pain ranges from a dull, aching pain to sharp bursts of stabbing pain. The pain can also make it feel like something is squeezing or crushing your chest.

What causes chest pain?

Some of the most common causes of heart-related chest pain are coronary artery disease, heart attack, and myocarditis. Not all causes of chest pain require immediate care, but all types of chest pain should be evaluated by a professional.

 

Coronary artery disease is a chronic condition in which a blockage in your heart reduces blood flow and oxygen to the heart. Angina is the pain caused by coronary artery disease and it can be felt in your chest, back, arms, or jaw. While this pain often doesn’t cause permanent damage to your heart, it’s a sign that you may be at increased risk for heart attack.

 

Heart attack, or myocardial infarction, typically causes severe pain in the chest that doesn’t go away. A heart attack occurs when blood flow in your heart is blocked and cells of your heart muscle begin to die.

When does chest pain need emergency care?

Learn to recognize the signs of serious medical conditions related to chest pain, such as a heart attack. Heart attacks occur when plaque buildup inside the heart is released and forms a blood clot. The clot can block blood flow and cause permanent damage to your heart.

Common symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Tightness, pain, or aching in the chest or arms
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cold sweat
  • Sudden dizziness

If you or a loved one is suffering from severe chest pain or showing signs of a heart attack, call a hospital immediately. Heart attacks can be deadly, but prompt emergency care can help stop the damage that suffering a heart attack can cause.