What is Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)?

Cardiovascular disease is a general word used to describe a variety of disorders affecting the heart and the blood vessels. Cardiovascular comes from the coined word, “cardio” refers to the heart and “vascular” which means the blood vessels in the body. The term cardiovascular is used interchangeably with the word “heart disease.”

Cardiovascular disease is usually linked to the build-up of fatty deposits inside the blood arteries, medically known as atherosclerosis, resulting in the constriction of the blood arteries causing blockage of the blood vessels and the increased risk of blood clots.

The cardiovascular disease, also called heart disease, is the predominant cause of death among men and women in the United States. About 15.5 million Americans have coronary artery disease and an estimated 1.5 million people suffer from acute myocardial infarction with 600,000 death toll each year.

TYPES OF CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE 

There are various types of heart conditions that can affect heart function includes:

  • Coronary Artery (atherosclerotic) Heart Disease (CAD)

The kind of heart disease that affects the blood arteries of the heart. Heart attacks are mainly caused by coronary artery heart disease. This is the most prevalent heart disease among people in the U.S. An estimated 790,000 people suffer from heart attacks in the U.S. each year.

Coronary artery heart disease (CAD) happens when plaque causes the constriction or partial obstruction of the coronary arteries that may result in reduced blood flow. This reduced blood flow usually causes chest pain or angina, which is a warning sign for potential heart attack. As the coronary artery becomes blocked, the heart tissue downstream suffers from a lack of blood supply causing it to be damaged and dies.

  • Arrhythmias (Erratic Heart Beat) 

Arrhythmias are another type of heart ailment that increases the risk of a heart attack or stroke. This is related to the disturbances in the rhythm of the heart due to the irregular electrical impulses that coordinate the heartbeats. In this condition, the heartbeat may fluctuate interchangeably from too slow, too fast, or with an irregular pattern.

Common Types of Arrhythmia includes:

  1. Tachycardiawhen the heart beats faster than the normal, that is greater than 100 beats a minute.
  2. Bradycardia – when the heart beats too slow than the normal, that is less than 60 beats a minute.
  3. Atrial Fibrillation – is the most common type which causes a fast and irregular heartbeat that can lead to stroke, blood clots, heart failure, and other heart problems.
  4. Ventricular Fibrillation – considered to be the most serious type of arrhythmia where there was almost no blood being pumped out of the heart.

 

  • Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)

 

Congestive heart failure is simply referred to as “heart failure.” A chronic progressive condition that affects the ability of the heart to pump blood. The heart inadequately meets the demand of the body for blood causing deprivation of other organs and tissues from the supply of nutrients and oxygen.

  • Heart Valve Disease 

This cardiovascular disease involves a dysfunctional one or more of the four valves of the heart — aortic, mitral, pulmonary, and tricuspid.

The aortic valve disease is a disorder where the valve situated between the left ventricle (main pumping chamber) and the aorta (main artery) is not functioning properly. This may be present at birth.

The mitral valve disease involves the mitral valve located between the left atrium (upper left chamber) and the left ventricle (lower left chamber) that is not working properly. This may cause the blood to leak backward to the left atrium.

The pulmonary valve disease is the condition in which the heart valve located between the right ventricle (right lower chamber) and the pulmonary artery, the one that delivers blood to the lungs, is not functioning properly which results in the interruption of the blood flow to the lungs.

The tricuspid valve disease is a disorder that involves the malfunctioning of the valve (tricuspid) located between the right ventricle and right atrium (two right chambers) of the heart. This may result in right-sided heart failure.

  • Cardiomyopathy 

This refers to the disease of the heart muscle. In this condition, the heart muscle is weak and suffers difficulty in pumping blood to the rest of the body.

The Main Types of Cardiomyopathy includes:

  1. Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy –  the inability of the heart to pump blood effectively due to a thickened heart muscle of unknown cause.
  2. Dilated Cardiomyopathy – the ventricles (the main pumping chamber) stretches and thins and is unable to pump blood.
  3. Restrictive Cardiomyopathy a rare disease where the heart muscle becomes too rigid to expand which restricts the contraction.

SIGNS SYMPTOMS OF CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE

The general symptoms of cardiovascular disease include:

  • chest pain (angina)
  • shortness of breath
  • chest tightness
  • chest pressure
  • numbness
  • weakness or coldness in the legs or arms
  • pain in the neck, jaw, throat, upper abdomen, or back

MAIN RISK FACTORS FOR CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE:

 

  • High Blood Pressure

 

High blood pressure is one of the most significant risk factors for heart disease. High blood pressure (hypertension) causes damage to your vessels due to the strong force of blood against the wall.

 

  • Smoking

 

Another signicant risk factor for heart disease is smoking and the use of tobacco. The blood vessel may be impaired and caused to constrict.

 

  • High cholesterol

 

The fatty deposits found in the blood is bad cholesterol.  High cholesterol deposits in the blood may cause the blood vessels to constrict and may increase the risk of blood clots.

 

  • Diabetes

 

Another factor that causes the narrowing of the blood vessels is too high blood sugar due to diabetes. 

 

  • Sedentary Lifestyle

 

Lack of exercise may lead a person to become overweight which may also result in some risk factors of heart disease like obesity, hypercholesterolemia, and hypertension. 

 

  • Overweight / Obesity

 

Obesity and overweight are risk factors developing high blood pressure and diabetes which are also the conditions that may result to cardiovascular disease.

 

  • PTSD

 

Various studies show that there’s a link between PTSD and atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease.

 

  • Heredity

 

This is when heart disorders run in families. Just like the other risk factors of heart disease, like diabetes, hypertension, and obesity, the cardiovascular disease may also be passed from one generation to another since these are all genetically-inclined disorders.

Cite this article as:
Editorial Staff, "THE CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE (CVD)," in Medicalopedia, June 18, 2020, [Permalink: https://www.medicalopedia.org/8988/the-cardiovascular-disease-cvd/].