Cardiovascular Disease - Overview

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Cardiovascular disease (or heart disease) has many different forms and includes various conditions. 

Some of these are:

  • Coronary artery disease (also known as atherosclerosis): this refers to a condition where the arteries (blood vessels) that carry blood to the heart become narrowed or blocked. The heart needs adequate blood supply to function properly. If the vessels are blocked and cannot supply enough blood to the heart, this can lead to a lower tolerance for exercise or activities, chest pain and even heart attacks.
  • Cardiac failure: this is a condition where the muscles of the heart are not able to pump enough blood to the rest of the body, or the heart is not able to fill with an adequate amount of blood, leaving it with less blood to pump out. This can cause fatigue/tiredness, shortness of breath, inability to perform your normal activities and swelling of your feet and legs. Cardiac failure often happens as a result of damage to the heart from uncontrolled high blood pressure or coronary artery disease.
  • Arrythmias: A normal heartbeat is between 60 – 100 beats per minute and occurs at regular intervals. An arrythmia can mean that your heartbeat is too slow or too fast, or that it is irregular. This can lead to your heart having to work too hard, or to an inadequate amount of blood being pumped from the heart.
  • Cardiomyopathy: This term refers to diseases of the heart muscle. There are many different causes. The muscle can either be abnormally enlarged, thickened or stiffened, leading to abnormal heart function. This condition can result in heart failure or arrythmias.

IF YOU HAVE ONE (OR MORE) OF THESE CONDITIONS, IT IS IMPORTANT TO FOLLOW YOUR TREATMENT PLAN AS CLOSELY AS POSSIBLE. 

This is so that you can improve your quality of life and prevent complications. If you do not manage your condition well, you could end up with a stroke, heart attack or worsening heart failure. The blood vessels going to your arms and legs can also become damaged.

These are chronic conditions (meaning that they cannot be cured) but they can be managed by the correct use of medication and by changing some of your lifestyle habits. You can greatly improve your health by increasing the amount of exercise that you do, limiting unhealthy fast foods or foods high in fat and cholesterol and by quitting smoking. Losing weight if you are overweight or obese is one of the best things you can do for your health. Remember that your health is in your hands – take charge so that you can live healthier and happier, for longer!

 

Written by Dr Jessica Hamuy Blanco | Health Window

Reference: Mc Namara K, Alzubaidi H, Jackson JK. Cardiovascular disease as a leading cause of death: how are pharmacists getting involved?. Integr Pharm Res Pract. 2019;8:1-11.


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