Cardiovascular diseases refer to a group of conditions that impact the heart and blood vessels, such as the coronary arteries, peripheral arteries, and veins. These diseases are a leading cause of death worldwide and result in more deaths annually than any other disease. Common types of cardiovascular diseases include coronary artery disease, heart failure, arrhythmias, stroke, and peripheral arterial disease.
- Coronary artery disease (CAD): This occurs when the coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart muscle, become narrow or blocked, leading to chest pain (angina) or heart attack.
- Heart failure: This occurs when the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs, leading to fatigue, shortness of breath, and swelling in the legs, ankles, and feet.
- Arrhythmias: These are disturbances in the normal rhythm of the heartbeat, including fast or slow heartbeats, or irregular heartbeats.
- Stroke: This occurs when the blood supply to the brain is disrupted, leading to the death of brain cells. Strokes can be caused by blood clots or bleeding in the brain.
- Peripheral arterial disease (PAD): This occurs when the arteries that supply blood to the legs, feet, and arms become narrow or blocked, leading to pain or numbness in the affected limb.
Risk factors for these diseases include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, diabetes, and a family history of CVDs. To reduce the risk of developing these diseases, it is crucial to adopt a healthy lifestyle, including exercise, a balanced diet, and avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. Early detection and treatment of these conditions can improve outcomes and reduce the likelihood of complications.