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Cardiovascular Diseases


Cardiovascular diseases are also known as heart disease; it is the class of disorders that affects the heart and blood vessels such as veins and arteries. Technically, cardiovascular diseases refers to any disorder that involves the cardiovascular system, however, it describes those diseases related to arterial disease or atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis comes about when the arteries’ inner walls become narrow as a result of the accumulation of plaque, plaque is usually made of cholesterol, calcium, fats, and cellular waste products. Cardiovascular diseases have similar mechanisms, causes and treatments, they are usually treated by neurologists, vascular surgeons, thoracic surgeons, interventional radiologists and cardiologists, and this treatment is dependent on the organ system being treated.


 Each year nearly 1 million Americans pass away due to cardiovascular diseases this is approximately 42% of the total deaths. The rate of deaths from cardiovascular disease is even higher that of cancer, cardiovascular diseases are not only restricted to the elderly people alone. In fact, heart disease is the leading killer of all Americans who are 35year and above. Early treatment or detection is available; however by the time this disorder is identified, the main cause atherosclerosis is normally quite progressed for a number of years. Therefore, most health professionals stress on means of preventing atherosclerosis concentrating on the risk factors such as avoiding smoking, exercises and healthy eating. (Taylor, 2005)


 Common heart diseases, their causes, symptoms and treatments.

Atherosclerosis

This refers to a disorder whereby there is the thickening of arteries due to the accumulation of fatty materials like cholesterol. This disorder affects the arteries and leads to a persistent inflammatory response in the arteries’ walls. This inflammation arises due to build up of macrophage white blood cells, which are facilitated by the plasma proteins which transmit triglycerides and cholesterol known as low-density lipoproteins. The lack of sufficient high density lipoproteins used in the elimination of cholesterol and fats from the macrophage also accelerates the disorder. Atherosclerosis arises due to the formation of plaques that lead to the furring or hardening of arteries.


 The treatment for atherosclerosis involves the use of non pharmaceutical means in the beginning such as regular exercises and avoiding smoking. However, if these techniques do not work medicines such as statins and dietary supplements such as niacins are used to increase the level of high-density lipoproteins. (Vanhecke, 2006)


 Angina pectoris

Angina refers to the chest pains that come about due to the lack of oxygen supply in the heart muscles as a result of the lack blood a condition known as ischemia. Angina arises from the spasm or hindrance of the blood vessels of the heart or coronary arteries. In comprehensible terms angina is as a result of cardiac arteries’ atherosclerosis. The rigorousness of angina cannot be equated to cardiac events that are fatal; there is a weak correlation between the degree of deprivation of oxygen and severity of pain in the muscles of the heart. The first-line treatment of Angina involves the use glyceryl trinitrate that relieves the symptoms, and when the disease is clinically confirmed the patient is given aspirin. 


 Cerebrovascular diseases

These refer to the disorders of brain dysfunctions that are associated with disorders of the blood vessels that are used in supplying blood to the brain. One of the main causes of cerebrovascular disease is hypertension; it harms endothelium, the lining of blood vessels and this leads to the exposure of the primary collagen where there is an aggregation of platelets to trigger the repairing process that is not always perfect and complete. Continued hypertension alters the structure of blood vessels permanently and this makes them uneven, deformed, stiff and more susceptible to variations in the pressure of blood. The other causes are diabetes, obesity and smoking.


 The decrease in blood pressure when someone is asleep can, result in a significant reduction of the movement of blood in the blood vessels that are narrowed leading to ischemic stroke the next day. Equally, an abrupt increase in blood pressure as a result of excitation during the day can lead to the bursting of blood vessels and consequently, lead to intracranial hemorrhage. This disease mainly affects elderly individuals or those having a history of ischemic disease, smoking, or diabetes.


 Heart attack or Myocardial Infraction.

 This refers to the disruption of the supply of blood to some component of the heart causing the death of some heart cells. This occurs due to the blockage of a coronary artery as a result of the bursting of an atherosclerotic plaque that is vulnerable. This oxygen shortage and restriction of the supply of blood, if left unattended for a given time period, results to death or damage of the tissues of the heart muscles. The symptoms of chronic myocardial infraction include vomiting, nausea, chest pains, palpitations, and shortness of breath, anxiety and sweating. The treatment myocardial infection includes reperfusion, nitroglycerin, anti-platelet drugs, and rehabilitation in a coronary care unit. (Lee, 2006)


 Heart failure.

Heart failure is a problem of the heart that is concerned with the function or structure of the heart, this condition weakens the ability of the heart to supply enough blood flow to take care of the needs of the body. Myocardial infraction is a major cause of heart failure; in addition, other disorders lead to heart failure such as cardiomyopathy, valvular heart disease, hypertension, and ischemic disease. The main symptoms of heart failure include coughing, shortness of breath, exercise intolerance, and ankle swelling. As a result of definitive diagnosis challenges and a requirement for a universally accepted definition, Heart failure is frequently undiagnosed. The treatment for heart failure is focused on medication and lifestyle measures like reduced intake of salt. (Pfeffer, 2005)


 Peripheral artery diseases.

This disease is also referred to as peripheral vascular disease; it refers to a collection of diseases that emerge as a result of the hindrance of the big arteries in the legs and arms. The cause of peripheral artery diseases is inflammation that results to thrombus or embolism formation, and also stenosis, the disorder can also arise from atherosclerosis. The disease leads to chronic or acute ischemia, which is the, lack of supply of blood, especially of the legs. The symptoms are ulcers, wounds and sores that take long to heal, claudication which refers to cramping, numbness, weakness and pain in muscles, reduced nail and hair growth on the limbs that are affected, and a blueness or paleness of the affected limb.


 Coronary heart disease.

This disease results from the malfunction of coronary circulation that supplies sufficient flow to cardiac muscle and the tissue that surround this muscle. The disease is commonly compared to atherosclerotic coronary artery disorder, but its causes are different like coronary vasospasm. The cause of coronary heart disease includes hyperlipidemis, diabetes, hypertension, chest radiotherapy and smoking.


 The symptoms of coronary heart failure include angina, chest pains, myocardial infraction, fatigue and dyspnea. The treatments of coronary disease that involve lifestyle changes include healthy foods, exercise, avoiding smoking, and weight control. As for medications there is aspirin, calcium channel blockers, ACE inhibitors that work on myocardial infraction and hypertension, nitroglycerin and statins that lower cholesterol. In surgical interventions, the coronary disease can be treated using stents, angioplasty and coronary artery bypass.


 Stroke.

Stroke refers to the fast loss of the functions of the brain as a result of the disruption of the supply of blood to the brain, due to the bursting or blockage of blood vessels. This can result from the lack of oxygen or glucose supply due to hemorrhage, embolism or thrombosis. Therefore, this leads to the decreased functionality of the area of the brain, which is affected, this result in the incapacity to formulate or understand speech, the restricted movement of limbs on a given side of the body, or the incapacity to see the visual field’s one side.


 A stroke can result in death, medical emergency, complications, or a neurological damage that is permanent. Stroke’s risk factors include atrial fibrillation, smoking, high cholesterol, diabetes, transient ischemic attack or previous stroke, hypertension and advanced age, with high-blood pressure being the most serious risk component. The treatment of stroke involves thrombolysis which entails the bursting of clots, this goes hand in hand with supportive care such as occupational therapy, physiotherapy, language and speech therapy. Secondary prevention entails the use of anti-platelet drugs such as dipyridamole, or aspirin, statins for patients with anticoagulation and carotid endarterectomy, and control of blood pressure. (Taylor, 2005)


 Reference:

Lee, R. J & Christman, K. L: Biomaterials for the treatment of myocardial infarction". (2006). Journal of the AmericanCollege of Cardiology.

Pfeffer, M. A & McMurray, J.J: Heart failure. (2005). Lancet.

Taylor, R. B. & David, A. K: Taylor’s cardiovascular diseases; a handbook. (2005) Springer science & business media, Inc. New York, NY.

Vanhecke, T.E., McCullough, P.A., Miller, W.M., Weber, J.E., Franklin, B.A: Awareness, knowledge, and perception of heart disease among adolescents. (2006). Europeanjournal of Cardiovascular Prevention and rehabilitation.


 

 
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