The heart is the organ that is in charge of pumping the blood that carries oxygen to all the cells of the body. Heart disease affects the functioning of this organ, but unlike cardiovascular disease, heart disease is only related to the heart and blood vessels.
The most common cause of heart disease is narrowing or blockage of the coronary arteries. High cholesterol, hypertension or diabetes are some of the factors that increase the risk of developing these types of problems. Here are the most common warning signs that we usually ignore.
Most common symptoms of heart disease
It is important to know that heart disease develops over time and silently. That is, we can feel the symptoms long before we have major problems or even not realize it. These symptoms tend to be repeated in all patients and are the most common signs that could indicate that we suffer from a heart problem.
- Difficulty breathing: This is a symptom of heart failure and occurs when the heart cannot pump blood as it should. In these cases, blood can pool in the veins leading to the lungs, causing difficulty breathing.
- Coughing or wheezing: Long-term coughing can also be a sign that fluid is building up in the lungs, also increasing shortness of breath.
- Inflammation of the legs, ankles and feet (edema): Blood flow becomes slow and reverses in the veins of the legs, causing the accumulation of fluid in these tissues.
- Chest pain: We are talking about angina pectoris, one of the most common heart diseases. It usually happens when the heart doesn’t get enough blood or oxygen. The type of pain can vary from one person to another.
- Fast or irregular heartbeat: When the heart cannot pump blood properly, it tends to beat faster to try to keep up, causing the familiar palpitations. A fast or irregular rhythm can also be a sign of arrhythmia.
The most common heart diseases
Heart disease causes millions of deaths each year, especially in the United States, and is the leading cause of death from disease. These are some of the most frequent:
- Angina pectoris: As we have explained previously, this causes pain in the chest and can be classified into two types: stable and unstable. In the first, the person feels pain when doing physical exercise, and in the second, the pain appears for a longer duration and unexpectedly, when at rest.
- Arrhythmia: It consists of an irregular heartbeat, when the electrical impulses that regulate the heart rhythm do not work properly.
- Myocardial infarction: It appears violently and is a disease caused by the deterioration and obstruction of the arteries of the heart.
- Hypertension: It is the elevation of blood pressure levels and can cause a multitude of medical conditions, such as strokes or kidney failure.
Take care of your cardiovascular health
The risk of heart disease increases with age, starting at age 45 for men and age 55 for women. However, we can take a series of measures that help us lead a healthy lifestyle that help us prevent these diseases and protect our heart.
- Balance diet:Controlling weight and eating a healthy diet is essential to prevent heart problems derived from high cholesterol, triglycerides, or diabetes. Be aware that being overweight and obese can increase your risk of heart disease.
- Alcohol: Reducing your alcohol intake can help lower your blood pressure.
- Smoking: This dangerous habit raises your blood pressure, increasing your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
- Physical activity: Practicing physical exercise is essential to reduce risk, because it stimulates circulation, helps us balance cholesterol and lower blood pressure, and also strengthens our heart.