If you suffer from a heart condition, terms like “heart disease” and “cardiovascular disease” can be confusing. What is the difference between these two conditions? While they both relate to issues of your cardiovascular health, there are some distinct differences between them – and it is important to understand what those are if you want to get a full picture of your overall cardiac health.
If so, you’re in the right place -in this article we will explore exactly what cardiovascular disease is, its risk factors, and ways to keep your heart healthy. Cardiovascular disease causes many morbidities each year in adults and has been linked as one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Understanding cardiovascular health is important for everyone –read on to find out why!
What is cardiovascular disease (CVD)?
Cardiovascular disease is an umbrella term that includes any condition that affects the cardiovascular system, which is made up of your heart and blood vessels. These conditions range from high cholesterol to coronary artery disease, arrhythmia, congestive heart failure, stroke, and more. CVDs are the leading cause of death globally – in 2019, an estimated 17.9 million people died from CVDs, representing 32% of all global deaths.
What are the risk factors for CVD?
There are several risk factors that can increase the likelihood of developing a CVD. These include
- Unhealthy diet
- Physical inactivity
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
All of these risks can be reduced or managed by making lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.
Fortunately, the majority of cardiovascular diseases can be prevented through lifestyle changes and adequate medical care. To protect your heart health, it is important to understand what CVDs are and how they can be prevented or managed. Talk to your doctor if you think you may have an increased risk of developing CVD. With the right lifestyle changes and medical care, you can help reduce your risk of heart disease and lead a healthy life.
What is Heart Disease (HD)?
Heart disease, also known as coronary artery disease or ischemic heart disease, is a type of CVD caused by narrowing or blockage in the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle. Symptoms may include:
- Chest pain
- Irregular heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
Is Cardiovascular Disease The Same As Heart Disease?
No, cardiovascular disease is not the same as heart disease. Cardiovascular disease encompasses a wide range of conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels, while heart disease specifically refers to any type of condition that affects the organ itself, such as coronary artery disease or myocardial infarction (heart attack). Although they are often used interchangeably, they are two distinct conditions. If you suffer from a heart condition, it is important to understand the differences between cardiovascular disease and heart disease. Understanding your risk factors and making lifestyle changes can help reduce your chances of developing either one.
What are the symptoms of CVD?
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Shortness of breath
- Pain or discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw, or upper stomach
- Nausea and lightheadedness
- Irregular heartbeat
- Swelling in the legs and feet
- Dizziness or fainting spells.
- Memory loss or confusion.
- Trouble sleeping due to shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing.
- Loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss.
- Palpitations – a feeling that your heart is beating irregularly, too fast or too hard.
- Pain in the jaw, neck, or back.
- Coughing up blood-tinged phlegm.
How is CVD treated and prevented?
Treating and preventing cardiovascular disease requires a multi-faceted approach, including lifestyle changes, medication, and other treatments.
- Lifestyle changes: Making healthy lifestyle choices is the first step in reducing your risk of developing CVD. These include quitting smoking, eating a well-balanced diet that is low in salt and saturated fat, increasing physical activity, keeping blood pressure and cholesterol under control through diet and exercise or medication, if needed; and managing stress levels.
- Medication: Your doctor may recommend medications to help treat high blood pressure or reduce your risk for heart attack. Commonly used medications for CVD include ACE inhibitors (angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors), antiplatelet (aspirin), beta-blockers, and statins.
- Medications can help reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and vascular death in people with established CVD or at higher risk of developing it.
- Other treatments: Depending on your condition, you may need additional treatments such as angioplasty, stenting or bypass surgery. These procedures are used to open blocked arteries or replace them with healthy blood vessels from elsewhere in the body.
Tips to prevent CVD:
- Quit smoking: Smoking increases your risk of CVD, so quitting is an important step in reducing your risk.
- Exercise regularly: Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate to intense exercise per week to help keep your heart healthy.
- Eat a healthy diet: Eating foods low in saturated fat, trans fats, and sodium can help reduce your risk of CVD. Increase your intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein sources while avoiding processed and refined foods.
- Monitor your cholesterol: Regularly checking and managing your cholesterol levels helps reduce your risk of CVD. Ask your doctor to check your cholesterol at least once a year, or more often if you’re at an increased risk for developing CVD.
- Manage stress: Stress can increase the risk of developing CVD, so take steps to reduce stress levels through relaxation techniques, such as yoga or meditation.
- Monitor your blood pressure: High blood pressure can increase the risk of CVD, so it’s important to check your blood pressure regularly and work with your doctor to manage it if necessary.
- Get enough sleep: Not getting enough sleep can increase your risk of CVD. Aim for 7-9 hours per night.
- Limit alcohol consumption: Drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure levels and increase the risk of CVD, so limit yourself to one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men.
Cardiovascular disease is a serious condition that can have serious effects on your health and well-being. However, making positive lifestyle changes and taking the necessary steps to reduce your risk can go a long way in preventing CVD. Taking steps such as quitting smoking, exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, monitoring your cholesterol and blood pressure, managing stress levels, getting enough sleep, and limiting alcohol consumption can help reduce your risk of developing CVD. Additionally, it is important to consult your doctor regularly to monitor your risk and discuss any additional treatments or medications that may be necessary.