The cardiovascular disease not only refers to one condition but rather a number of conditions:
Heart disease is a disease that affects the heart and blood vessels, including many other problems and many of them are linked to a process called atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis develops as a condition when plaque builds up in the walls of the arteries. As a consequence of the buildup, the arteries are narrowed, and it makes the process of blood flowing through harder. The blood flow can even be blocked if a blood clot forms. This can cause serious heart damage, and result in a heart attack or stroke.
A heart attack happens when a blood clot blocks the blood flow to a part of the heart. The part of the heart muscle supplied by that artery begins to die out if the clot cuts off the blood flow completely.
Most people who experience heart attack for the first time survive it, and continue living their normal lives, and enjoy many more years of an active life. But if you have experienced a heart attack, you may have to make some lifestyle changes.
The lifestyle changes and medications that your doctor recommends to you may differ, depending on how badly your heart was damaged, and what degree of heart disease triggered the heart attack.
The most common type of stroke is an ischemic stroke. It happens when a blood vessel that feeds the brain gets blocked, most of the time from a blood clot.
Some brain cells die because the blood supply to a part of the brain is cut off. As a consequence, a loss of functions controlled by that part of the brain occurs, such as talking or walking.
A hemorrhagic stroke happens when a blood vessel within the brain bursts. In most cases, it happens because of uncontrolled high blood pressure or so-called hypertension.
If too many brain cells die after being starved of oxygen, some of the effects of the stroke will be permanent, and the cells can never be replaced.
Good news is that sometimes the damage is temporary and brain cells don’t die during a stroke. Over time, the injured cells will repair themselves, and some impaired functions that a person had previously will improve. (In other cases, nearby brain cells that weren’t damaged will take over for the areas of the brain that were injured.)
Eventually, speech may get better, the memory may improve, and strength may return. This is a part of the rehabilitation process of a stroke.
Heart failure, rarely called congestive heart failure, means that the blood isn’t pumping blood as it should normally. A common misperception is that heart failure stops beating. This isn’t true, instead the heart keeps pumping blood but the body’s need for blood and oxygen isn’t being met.
If left untreated heart failure can get worse. It is very important to follow the instructions of the doctor if your loved one has a heart failure.
Arrhythmia means that your heart rhythm is abnormal. There are different types of arrhythmias. The heart can beat too fast, too slow or irregularly.
Tachycardia, or a heart rate that is too fast, means that the heart rate is more than 100 beats per minute. Bradycardia, on the other hand, means that your heart rate is too slow, and beats less than 60 times per minute.
Arrhythmia can affect the way your heart works. If you have an irregular heartbeat, your heart may not be able to pump enough blood to meet your body’s needs.
Heart valve problems
Stenosis is a condition that happens when the heart valves don’t open enough to allow the blood to flow through as it should. When the heart valves don’t close as they should and allow blood to leak through, it’s called regurgitation. The condition prolapsed means that the valve leaflets bulge or prolapsed back into the upper chamber. Discover more about the important roles your heart valves play in healthy circulation.
Some common treatments
There are some common treatments for different types of cardiovascular disease, such as:
Heart valve problems
- Heart valve surgery
- Coronary angioplasty
- Coronary artery bypass graft surgery
- Medications – clotbusters (should be administered as soon of possible for some types of heart attacks)
- Carotid endarterectomy (PDF)
- Medications – clotbusters (must be aministered within three hours from onset of stroke symptoms for some types of strokes)
Surgical procedures, diagnostic tests and medications
During the first few weeks at home and in the hospital, the doctor may perform certain procedures and tests. These tests will help the doctor to determine what triggered the heart attack or stroke, and how much damage was being done. Certain tests monitor progress to see if treatment is working.
Cardiac medications prescribed after a cardiac event can help in recovery and work to prevent another heart attack or stroke.
If you are a caregiver, make sure that your loved one gets his medications on time and as directed. It is also advisable to educate yourself about how the medications your loved one takes work.
When your doctor gives you directions, it is very important to take notes and ask questions.
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