Cardiovascular Diseases: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

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  • 20 Jul, 2017

Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), commonly referred to as heart disease, kills millions of people around the world every year. According to the World Health Organization, heart disease is the number one killer. As maximum number of people around the world die because of CVD, as compared to any other reasons or causes.

In 2015 alone, more than 17 million people died globally because of heart disease. It accounts for 31 percent of all the deaths in the year. Out of 17 million, more than 7 million people die because of just two types of cardiovascular disease – coronary artery disease (CAD) and stroke.

This article explains about some of the most common cardiovascular diseases, their symptoms, causes, and treatment options. It also delved into the categories of people who are at an increased risk of developing one or the other forms of heart disease. Throughout the article, we would focus more on the two most common cardiovascular diseases, heart attack and stroke.

Cardiovascular Diseases: An Introduction

Cardiovascular diseases actually point to a group of diseases or disorders that affect the heart and the major blood vessels attached to it. The disease may affect just the heart, a blood vessel or sometimes both of them at the same time.

The blood vessel here refers to the one that supplies blood from the heart to other parts of the body like arms, and legs, or the brain and vice versa. The heart and the blood vessels together forms the cardiovascular system, which helps circulate blood throughout the entire body.

In addition, CVDs includes congenital heart disease, pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis, and rheumatic heart disease as well. Thus, the following are the groups of diseases that fall under the category of cardiovascular diseases:

Pulmonary embolism and deep vein thrombosis: These diseases are characterized by the presence of a blood clot in the veins of the leg. The clot may dislodge from its original location and move to the heart and the lungs. This may lead to fatal conditions such as stroke.

Coronary heart disease or coronary artery disease: This refers to the disease of the main artery that supply blood to the cardiac muscles.

Rheumatic heart disease: Rheumatic fever caused by streptococcal bacteria may damage the valves and the heart muscles.

Cerebrovascular disease: This refers to the disease of the blood vessels that supplies blood to the brain.

Peripheral arterial disease: This refers to the disease of the vessels that supply blood to the arms and legs.

Birth defects: Also known as congenital heart disease, this type of cardiovascular disease refers to the heart defects present at the time of birth.

Heart disease treatment in India can be availed at all major hospitals. The best cardiology hospitals in India cater to the medical needs of the patients suffering from any of the cardiovascular diseases.

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Types of Cardiovascular Diseases

The types of cardiovascular diseases that an individual may suffer from can be categorized into two groups – heart-related disease and vascular diseases. The latter category includes CVDs that affect the vascular system of human body.

Common cardiac diseases include the following:

  • Angina
  • Irregular Heartbeat or Arrhythmia
  • Heart Attack or Failure
  • Pulmonary Stenosis
  • Mitral Valve Prolapse or Regurgitation
  • Atrial Fibrillation
  • Rheumatic Heart Disease
  • Coronary Artery Disease
  • Dilated or Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy
  • Congenital Heart Disease

Common vascular diseases include the following:

  • Blood Clotting Disorder
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Renal Artery Disease
  • Aneurysm
  • Peripheral Arterial Disease
  • Peripheral Venous Disease
  • Stroke

The cardiac hospitals in India offer high-quality medical therapy for all the aforementioned heart diseases at an extremely affordable price. There are several other hospitals around the world that offer similar quality of treatment, but the cost of cardiovascular disease treatment in Indian hospitals is far less than the hospitals based in other countries.

Causes of Cardiovascular Diseases

Certain types of cardiovascular disease have a direct cause. For example, heart attack and stroke primarily result because of disruption in the flow of blood to the heart or the brain caused due to a blockage. The blockage could be deposition of fatty material on the inside of the arterial wall or the presence of a blood clot.

But a majority of cardiovascular diseases do not have a direct cause. Instead, they are triggered by a combination of risk factors such as unhealthy eating habits, sedentary lifestyle, lack of physical activity, smoking, excessive alcohol and tobacco use, obesity, and the presence of an underlying condition such as diabetes and hypertension.

Symptoms of Cardiovascular Diseases

The symptoms of cardiovascular diseases vary from one condition to another. The symptoms most often depend on the underlying condition that the patient could be suffering from.

Mostly, there are no specific symptoms that a patient may experience when he or she suffers from a disease of the blood vessels. In a majority of the cases, a heart attack or a stroke is often the first sign of the disease.

The symptoms of a heart attack are as follows:

  • Pain in the chest (angina)
  • Discomfort in the chest
  • Pain in the arms and other body parts such as elbows, back, jaw, and left shoulder
  • Difficulty breathing and shortness of breath
  • Cold sweat
  • Light-headedness
  • Paleness
  • Vomiting

The symptoms of a stroke are as follows:

  • Sudden weakness, mostly on the one side of the body
  • Severe headache
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty speaking and understanding things
  • Difficulty walking and dizziness
  • Problems walking straight and loss of balance
  • Problem seeing from one or both the eyes
  • Unconsciousness

The symptoms mentioned above are sometimes experienced in case of other heart diseases as well. Light-headedness, sweating, cold sweat, nausea, and shortness of breath are the common symptoms of almost all types of heart disease.

The symptoms of heart disease, however, vary from one individual to another. What one patient experiences, may not be the same as with another patient.

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Line of Treatment for Cardiovascular Diseases

The treatment for heart diseases depends on the type of disease that the patient is suffering from. The following table illustrates the most common line of treatment for some of the major heart diseases.

Cardiovascular Disease Recommended Line of Treatment
Heart Attack
  • Medications (anti-clotting and blood thinning)
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Percutaneous coronary intervention
  • Cardiac rehabilitation
Coronary Artery Disease
Atrial Fibrillation
  • Drug therapy
  • Electrical cardioversion
  • Catheter ablation
  • Maze procedure
  • Atrioventricular (AV) node ablation
  • Anticoagulant administration
Mitral Valve Prolapse
  • Medications – anti-seizure, pain relievers, and calcium-channel blockers
  • Surgical clipping
  • Endovascular coiling
Pulmonary Stenosis

Heart disease treatment offered at different hospitals in India includes all the types of treatment used to cure cardiovascular diseases.

Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Diseases

Not all people are at an equal risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Some people are at an increased risk of certain heart diseases and are more prone to it.

It is estimated that both men and women with certain risk factors for cardiovascular disease have a 50 percent lifetime risk of developing a heart disease. But even those men and women who are at a little to no risk factors for cardiovascular disease, the lifetime risk is about 30 percent.

More specifically, people with the following conditions are at an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases:

  • Hypertension
  • High cholesterol
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Obesity
  • Physical inactivity
  • Lack of sleep
  • Radiation therapy
  • Air pollution and exposure to certain toxins
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder
  • Reduced functioning of the lung

Apart from the risk factors, the number of deaths due to cardiovascular disease and the chances of developing heart disease also differ among geographic regions and ethnic groups. For example, non-Hispanic whites and non-Hispanic blacks (23.8 percent each) are at a slightly increased risk of dying due to cardiovascular disease than Asians and Pacific Islanders (22.2 percent). All these three groups are at an increased risk of CVD as compared to American Indians and Alaska Natives (18.4 percent).

How Can You Prevent Cardiovascular Diseases?

A majority of CVDs are completely preventable. All that is required are a few lifestyle changes. Decreasing the consumption of alcohol and tobacco, cessation of smoking, reducing intake of salt, increasing consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, taking measures to curb obesity are some of the important steps that can help prevent CVDs.

Regular exercising, staying physically active, changing sedentary lifestyle, and managing stress also helps keep heart diseases at bay.

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