Heart disease: Symptoms, Causes, Risk factors, and Treatment

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for several populations from all races, including Caucasians, Hispanics, and African-Americans. Though heart disease can be fatal, it can also be preventable. You can live long with a healthy heart by adopting healthy lifestyle habits early.

Different Types of Heart disease

Heart disease involves a wide range of cardiovascular problems such as:

  • Coronary artery disease (CAD): This is caused by the accumulation of plaque in the arteries of the heart. It’s sometimes called ischemic heart disease.
  • Arrhythmia:This occurs when there’s an abnormality in the heart rhythm.
  • Atherosclerosis:This condition can be described as hardening of the arteries.
  • Cardiomyopathy: This condition causes the heart’s muscles to harden or get weak.
  • Congenital heart defects:These are heart anomalies that are present at birth.
  • Heart infections.Heart infections may be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites.

Symptoms of Heart disease

Different types of heart disease may result in a variety of different symptoms.

Coronary artery disease (CAD)

CAD is plaque buildup in the arteries that move oxygen-rich blood through the heart and lungs. CAD signs and symptoms may include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Indigestion
  • Chest pain
  • Feeling of pressure or squeezing in the chest


Arrhythmias are abnormal heart rhythms. Symptoms of an arrhythmia include:

  • Slow pulse
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Chest pain
  • Fainting spells


Atherosclerosis causes the blood supply to your extremities to be reduced. Symptoms of atherosclerosis include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Coldness in the limbs
  • Weakness in your arms and legs
  • Numbness in the limbs
  • Unusual pain

Congenital heart defects

Congenital heart defects are heart problems that develop when a fetus is growing. Symptoms may include:

  • Swelling of the extremities
  • Blue-tinged skin
  • Irregular heart rhythm
  • shortness of breath
  • low energy


This disease causes the muscles of the heart to grow larger and turn rigid, thick, or weak. Symptoms of this condition include:

  • bloating
  • fatigue
  • rapid pulse
  • swollen legs, especially at the feet and ankles
  • shortness of breath

Heart infections

Heart infection may be used to describe conditions such as endocarditis or myocarditis. Symptoms of a heart infection include:

  • chills
  • fever
  • chest pain
  • coughing
  • skin rash

Symptoms of Heart disease in Women

The signs and symptoms of heart diseases experienced by women is mostly different from those experienced by men. Symptoms of heart disease in women can mimic other conditions, such as menopause, depression, and anxiety.

Common heart disease symptoms in women include:

  • paleness
  • dizziness
  • anxiety
  • neck pain
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • jaw pain
  • shortness of breath or shallow breathing
  • cold sweats
  • lightheadedness
  • fainting spells
  • back pain
  • indigestion or gaslike pain in the chest and stomach

Causes of Heart disease

Heart disease is a group of diseases that cause cardiovascular problems. Atherosclerosis and CAD are caused by plaque buildup in the arteries. Other causes of heart disease includes:

Causes of Arrhythmia

Causes of arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm) include:

  • Heart defects
  • CAD
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • medications, supplements, and herbal remedies
  • Taking alcohol or caffeine excessively
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Substance abuse
  • existing heart disease

Causes of Cardiomyopathy

There are different types of cardiomyopathy, each type is the result of a separate condition.

  • Dilated cardiomyopathy:This is the most common type of cardiomyopathy, which leads to a weakened heart. It may be caused by unchecked blood pressure or result of previous damage to the heart.
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy: This type of heart disease is usually inherited. It leads to a thicker heart muscle.
  • Restrictive cardiomyopathy:This causes the walls of the heart to be rigid. Possible causes may include an abnormal protein buildup (amyloidosis), or a scar tissue buildup.

Causes of Heart infection

Heart infection is caused by bacteria, parasites, and viruses. If left unchecked or not properly treated, infections in the body can also affect the heart.

Causes of Congenital heart defect

This heart disease occurs while a baby is still developing in the womb. Some heart defects may be serious and diagnosed and treated early. Some may also go undetected for years.

Risk Factors for Heart disease

There are many risk factors for heart disease. Some are controllable, and others cannot be controlled. Some of these risk factors include:

  • Obesity
  • Hypertension or high blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • High level of cholesterol and low levels of good cholesterol
  • physical inactivity
  • diabetes

Risk factors that can’t be controlled

Other risk factors for heart disease include:

  • family history
  • ethnicity
  • sex
  • age

Diagnosing Heart disease

To properly diagnose heart disease, your doctor may order several types of tests and evaluations. Some of these tests can be performed before you ever show signs of heart disease. Others may be used to look for possible causes of symptoms when they develop.

Physical exams and blood tests

A physical exam involving blood tests, would be the first test to be carried out. Your doctor will ask about your family and personal medical history. Genetics can play a role in some heart diseases. If you have a close family member with heart disease, share this information with your doctor.

Blood tests helps your doctor see your cholesterol levels and look for signs of inflammation.

Noninvasive tests

A variety of noninvasive tests may be used to diagnose heart disease.

  • CT scan:This imaging test gives your doctor a highly-detailed X-ray image of your heart.
  • Heart MRI:This provides a very detailed image of your heart and blood vessels.
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG):This test monitors the electrical activity of your heart and help your doctor detect any anomalies.
  • Carotid ultrasound: This ultrasound test gives a detailed ultrasound of your carotid arteries.
  • Holter monitor: This device is a heart rate monitor that you wear for 24 to 48 hours to get an extended view of your heart’s activity.
  • Echocardiogram: This is an ultrasound testthat gives your doctor a close picture of the structure of your heart.
  • Tilt table test:Your doctor may order this test if you’ve recently experienced fainting or lightheadedness when standing up or sitting down. During it, you’re strapped to a table and slowly raised or lowered while they monitor your heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen levels.
  • Stress test: This exam is performed while you complete an active activity, like running, walking, or riding a stationary bike.

Invasive tests

If the physical exam, blood tests, and noninvasive tests fails to properly diagnose the heart condition, your doctor may want to look inside your body to determine what’s causing any unusual symptoms. Invasive tests may include:

  • Cardiac catheterization and coronary angiography:This procedure has to do with your doctor inserting a catheter into your heart through the groin and arteries. The catheter will help them perform tests involving the heart and blood vessels. Once this catheter is in your heart, your doctor can perform a coronary angiography, where a dye is injected into the delicate arteries and capillaries close to the heart. The dye helps produce a highly comprehensive X-ray image.
  • Electrophysiology study: During this test, your doctor may attach electrodes to your heart through a catheter and send electric pulses through and take record of how the heart responds.

Treatments for Heart disease

Treatment for heart disease largely depends on the type of heart disease you have as well as how far it has progressed.

Antibiotic may be prescribed for heart infection.

If you have plaque buildup, your doctor may prescribe a medication that can help lower your risk for extra plaque buildup and look to help you adopt healthy lifestyle changes.

Treatment for heart disease falls into three main categories:

Lifestyle changes

Healthy lifestyle choices that involves your diet and exercise, can help you prevent heart disease. They can also help you treat the condition and prevent it from deteriorating.

A diet low in sodium, low in fat, and rich in fruits/vegetables may help you lower your risk for heart disease complications. One example is the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet.

Also, it would help to quit alcohol consumption, quit tobacco, and get regular exercise.


A medication may be prescribed to slow down or completely stop the risk of complications from heart disease. Your doctor can prescribe a medication that can either cure or control your heart disease. The exact drug you’re prescribed depends on the type of heart disease you have.

Surgery or invasive procedures

In some cases of heart disease, surgery or a medical procedure is required to treat the condition and prevent aggravating symptoms.

Preventing Heart disease

Some risk factors for heart disease can’t be controlled, like your family history, for example. But it’s still important to lower your chance of developing heart disease by decreasing the risk factors that you can control.

Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels in check

Healthy level of blood pressure and cholesterol are vital for a healthy heart. Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). A healthy blood pressure is considered less than 120 systolic and 80 diastolic, which is often expressed as “120 over 80” or “120/80 mm Hg.” Systolic is the measurement of pressure while the heart is contracting. Diastolic is the measurement when the heart is resting. Higher numbers indicate that the heart is working too hard to pump blood.

Manage stress

Learning how to manage your stress can also lower your risk for heart disease. Chronic stress is a major contributor to heart disease. Speak with your doctor if you’re frequently stunned, anxious, or are coping with stressful life events, such as moving, changing jobs, or going through a divorce.

Is there a cure for heart disease?

There is no cure for heart disease. It can also not be reversed. It requires a lifetime of treatment and careful monitoring. Many of the symptoms of heart disease can be relieved with medications, procedures, and lifestyle changes. When these methods fail, coronary intervention or bypass surgery might be required.

Sources: healthline.com, dr-rath-foundation.org, mayoclinic.org, health.harvard.edu

Disclaimer: The content provided on healthdiary365.com is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical doctor or healthcare professional.


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