How do cardiovascular disease and heart disease differ?
Well, “cardiovascular disease” is the large umbrella term for different diseases typically involving narrowed or obstructed blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Thus, cardiovascular disease may include problems like atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease (CAD) and cerebrovascular disease.
On the other hand, “heart disease” may also result in problems with the heart – but not necessarily as the result of blocked blood vessels. This includes heart arrhythmias (abnormal heart rates), inflammatory heart disease, and other heart conditions.
Cardiovascular diseases are far more prevalent than heart problems not due to circulatory problems. For example, CAD is the most common type of heart condition in the U.S.
In most cases, the two terms are used interchangeably to refer to a wide variety of problems affecting the heart.
Causes of Heart Damage
When plaque builds up along the inside of blood vessels, it can significantly reduce the free flow of blood and oxygen to critical organs. Pumping blood throughout the body can become difficult and the heart muscle can even become enlarged. Often, patients experience no symptoms of this particular cardiovascular development until it is too late – such as when a heart attack or stroke occurs – which is why cardiovascular disease is often referred to as a silent killer.
Any variety of ailments can cause the narrowing of the arteries that can lead to a heart attack or stroke. High blood pressure, diabetes, abnormalities present at birth, obesity, as well as a wide variety of lifestyle choices such as smoking, diet, exercise, and more can all contribute to your likelihood of developing a heart condition. The rising prevalence of vascular disease is at a near-epidemic in the U.S. today.
Congenital issues may involve genetics or exposure to certain substances while in the womb. Structural deformities such as holes in the heart, abnormal valve structure, or defects in the formation of the chambers of the heart can all damage the heart. In many cases, these problems can be corrected with surgery when caught early enough and depending on the severity of the problem.
Know Your Risk Factors
People who have suffered previous heart attacks or who have diabetes are at an increased risk of developing heart problems.
If you have a family history of heart disease, try to eliminate or reduce additional risk factors that are within your control – such as smoking, alcohol consumption, high-cholesterol diets, and a lack of exercise. Regular doctor visits can also help identify potential risk factors you should be keeping an eye one.
Age plays a large factor in the development of heart disease as it usually shows up around 55 for men and 65 for women.
Diagnostic tests like an electrocardiogram (ECG), echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart), stress test, chest X-rays, and more may be used to reveal heart conditions. Blood tests can identify cholesterol levels and other risk factors than can indicate cardiovascular disease.
Treatment will vary depending on the cause of your heart condition, as well as the extent of damage it has caused.
If you are considered at-risk for heart disease or have experienced cardiovascular symptoms, don’t risk your life – seek the professional medical assistance offered at Wooster Community Hospital. You may call them at (340) 263-8282 or, request a consultation online and get your heart the love and attention it may need!