Heart Disease: A Major Global Health Issue

August 1, 2021

Heart disease describes all diseases that directly affect the heart. Globally, cardiovascular disease causes more deaths than any other causal factor. In 2019, based on data from the world health organization (WHO), it was responsible for about 17.9 million deaths. These deaths represent 32% of all deaths in 2019. The leading causes of these deaths were strokes and heart attacks, accounting for 85%. Approximately 75% of these deaths occur in middle-income and low-income countries, with China recording the most deaths worldwide. Heart disease continues to be a burden globally, and this article examines the types, causes, management, and treatment of heart diseases.

Types of Heart Disease

Coronary artery disease is the first type and the most common. Coronary heart disease is primarily caused by clogging of the blood in the arteries by a plaque of cholesterol and similar elements. As a result, the arteries narrow and harden, reducing oxygen and nutrient supply to the heart as less blood is pumped to the heart. Consequently, heart muscles weaken over time, increasing the risk of arrhythmias and heart failure. Secondly, there is genetically inherited congenital heart disease. Congenital heart disease occurs in some forms; children may be born with abnormal heart valves that either leaking blood or do not open properly. Similarly, children may have atresia where they are born with a missing valve or children born with septal defects. A septal defect is a condition that is characterized by a hole in either the lower or upper chambers. The disease can also be associated with other structural abnormalities like missing a ventricle or defects in arteries.

Moreover, arrhythmia is the third type centrally characterized by irregular heartbeats. The failure of electrical impulses of the heart causes the disease making it beat too slow (bradycardia) or too fast (tachycardia). Arrhythmia is further categorized into atrial fibrillation, premature contractions, tachycardia, and bradycardia. Patients must seek medical assistance when they experience persistent changes in the heart rhythm. Fourthly, dilated cardiomyopathy responsible for the dilation of heart chambers. Dilated cardiopathy is caused by some toxins, heart failure, and arrhythmias. Thus, the heart weakens and fails to pump enough blood again, causing heart failure, arrhythmia, or blood clotting in the heart. Besides, there is myocardial infarction that interrupts blood flow to the heart. Plaque and blood clots can cause myocardial infarction in the coronary artery.

Other types of heart disease include heart failure, mitral valve regurgitation, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, aortic stenosis, and mitral valve prolapse. When the mitral valve doesn’t close properly, allowing backflow of blood to the heart, the condition is called mitral valve regurgitation. On the other hand, the mitral valve’s flaps may bulge to the left atrium hence failing to close correctly; this condition is called mitral valve prolapse and is usually caused by genetic factors or defects in the connective tissues. Aortic stenosis occurs when the pulmonary valve becomes fused or thick; consequently, this reduces the heart’s capability to pump blood from the right ventricle to the pulmonary artery. Heart failure is the last type characterized by decreasing the heart’s performance. The primary causes of heart failure include heart conditions like coronary artery failure, arrhythmias, or high blood pressure.

Causes of Heart Disease

Heart disease is caused damage to any part of the heart tissue. For instance, damage to the heart valves or damage to the ventricles can cause a heart disease based on the specific area affected. Insufficient oxygen supply and nutrients to the heart can similarly cause heart disease. The heart muscles become weak and, as a result, are unable to function, appropriately causing some heart conditions. Equally, damage to the blood vessels that lead blood into or out the heart can cause heart diseases. In some instances, people genetically inherit heart conditions from their parents or siblings. Research also indicates that the risk of developing heart conditions increases based on lifestyle and preexisting conditions. For example, people diagnosed with high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, high anxiety, age, diet, diabetes, smoking, obesity, and alcohol consumption are at risk. High blood pressure and smoking tobacco products damage blood vessels causing some heart conditions; fatty foods and substances and cholesterol narrow blood vessels, elevating the risk of developing blood clots. Diseases like diabetes and obesity can also narrow blood vessels.

Management of Heart Disease

Heart conditions can be managed through the management of risk factors that increase their occurrence. The first approach is through the control of blood pressure. Patients with high blood pressure are required to understand systolic and diastolic pressure. Patients should maintain the standard rate of systolic pressure, which is the pressure when blood is pumped, and diastolic pressure, which is the pressure when the heart is rest. Knowing the normal pressure helps patients learn when it’s too high or low; the normal blood pressure should be controlled at 120/80 mm/Hg or lower. Patients can use modern devices to measure their blood pressure or regular medical checkups from medical caregivers. Patients can manage hypertension by eating healthy foods, containing the body mass index, doing regular physical activity, and sticking to medication to maintain the blood pressure. Diet adjustments are similarly recommended in managing heart conditions. Low salt intake is one recommendation, as research indicates that reduction in sodium intake minimizes both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. The second approach is adopting Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH). DASH is a joint health plan that involves high fruit and vegetable intake with reduced dairy intake. Similarly, the diet plan reduces saturated fats in lean meat, chicken, and fish.

Another approach to manage heart conditions is by limiting alcohol consumption. Alcohol consumption is related to blood pressure. Research indicates that people with high blood pressure should not consume more than two standard drinks daily as it affects their pressure. Furthermore, cholesterol management is necessary when one suffers from any heart condition. However, factors like family history and cultural background need to be considered when determining cholesterol levels. The standard measure recommended is 6.0; above this measure indicates an abnormality. Cholesterol poses a danger to the heart as it forms a thin lining over time, narrowing and hardening the blood vessels.

Notably, cholesterol can clog the blood vessels blocking blood from reaching the heart, which blocks essential nutrients and oxygen from reaching the heart. A low cholesterol diet is recommended. For example, eating meals with low-fat saturation, particularly patients, should avoid processed foods and dairy products. a small amount of monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats like seeds, oils, and nuts are recommended. Similarly to this diet, fiber-rich foods that lower harmful low-density lipopolysaccharides and plant sterols lower absorption of cholesterol from the gut are recommended. Additionally, heart conditions can be managed by increasing physical activity and weight management. Patients are required to handle mental health conditions like depression along with other chronic diseases like diabetes.

Treatment of Heart Disease

Treatment of heart conditions largely depends on the type of condition the patient suffers from, but some approaches are general to everybody. Anticoagulants that prevent the risk of blood clotting are administered to patients that have blood vessel conditions. Other medications administered to avoid blood clotting include antiplatelet therapies like aspirin, another widely used medication is angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors. The medications expand blood vessels, reduce pressure and heart failure, and include angiotensin II receptor blockers. Beta-blockers are another medication that reduces a high heart rate, while calcium channel blockers prevent arrhythmias by decreasing the heart’s pumping strength. The medication also helps blood vessels relax. Caregivers can administer cholesterol-reducing medications, digitalis to increase the heart’s power, diuretics to remove excess water, lowering blood pressure, and vasodilators that relax blood vessels.

In some instances, surgery is recommended. Surgery is used as an alternative to healing many heart conditions when medications are proved to be ineffective. One can undergo coronary artery bypass surgery for blood flow to the heart through the arteries. Similarly, another approach is valve repair or replacement. When valves prove improperly functioning, surgeons can repair or replace them and likewise repair other conditions like aneurysms, among other heart defects. Another treatment approach is through device implantation, where caregivers use devices like balloon catheters and pacemakers to maintain heartbeats. Other surgical procedures include maze surgery, where surgeons create patterns of scar tissues using electrical impulses and laser treatment to treat angina.

To conclude, heart diseases are the leading cause of death globally. The term generally means any condition that affects the heart. This article has explored the various types of heart conditions that are grouped based on the part affected. Equally, this article has examined the causes of heart conditions, their management, and treatment. The primary causes include damage to the heart valves or ventricles. Heart conditions can be managed through dietary regulation and doing regular physical activity. Deaths due to heart conditions are preventable through proper management and treatment.

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