About the heart and vascular disease
What is the heart and vascular disease?
Vascular disease includes any condition that affects the circulatory system. As the heart beats, it pumps blood through a system of blood vessels called the circulatory system. The vessels are elastic tubes that carry blood to every part of the body. Arteries carry blood away from the heart while veins return it.
Vascular disease ranges from diseases of your arteries, veins, and lymph vessels to blood disorders that affect circulation. The following are conditions that fall under the category of vascular disease.
Peripheral Artery Disease
Like the blood vessels of the heart (coronary arteries), your peripheral arteries (blood vessels outside your heart) also may develop atherosclerosis, the build-up of fat and cholesterol deposits, called plaque, on the inside walls. Over time, the build-up narrows the artery. Eventually the narrowed artery causes less blood to flow and a condition called "ischemia" can occur. Ischemia is inadequate blood flow to the body's tissue.
- A blockage in the coronary arteries can cause symptoms of chest pain (angina) or a heart attack.
- A blockage in the carotid arteries (the arteries supplying the brain) can lead to a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or stroke.
- A blockage in the legs can lead to leg pain or cramps with activity (a condition called claudication), changes in skin color, sores or ulcers, and feeling tired in the legs. Total loss of circulation can lead to gangrene and loss of a limb.
- A blockage in the renal arteries (arteries supplying the kidneys) can cause renal artery disease (stenosis). The symptoms include uncontrolled hypertension (high blood pressure), heart failure, and abnormal kidney function.
An aneurysm is an abnormal bulge in the wall of a blood vessel. They can form in any blood vessel, but they occur most commonly in the aorta (aortic aneurysm) which is the main blood vessel leaving the heart. The two types of aortic aneurysm are:
- Thoracic aortic aneurysm (part of aorta in the chest)
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm
Small aneurysms generally pose no threat. However, one is at increased risk for:
- Atherosclerotic plaque (fat and calcium deposits) formation at the site of the aneurysm.
- A clot (thrombus) may form at the site and dislodge.
- Increase in the aneurysm size, causing it to press on other organs, causing pain.
- Aneurysm rupture -- because the artery wall thins at this spot, it is fragile and may burst under stress. A sudden rupture of an aortic aneurysm may be life threatening.
Renal (Kidney) Artery Disease
Renal artery disease is most commonly caused by atherosclerosis of the renal arteries (see above). It occurs in people with generalized vascular disease. Less often, renal artery disease can be caused by a congenital (present at birth) abnormal development of the tissue that makes up the renal arteries. This type of renal artery disease occurs in younger age groups.
Raynaud's Phenomenon (Also Called Raynaud's Disease or Raynaud's Syndrome)
Raynaud's phenomenon consists of spasms of the small arteries of the fingers and sometimes the toes, brought on by exposure to cold or excitement. Certain occupational exposures bring on Raynaud's. The episodes produce temporary lack of blood supply to the area, causing the skin to appear white or bluish and cold or numb. In some cases, the symptoms of Raynaud's may be related to underlying diseases (ie, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma).
Buerger's arterial disease
Buerger's disease most commonly affects the small and medium sized arteries, veins, and nerves. Although the cause is unknown, there is a strong association with tobacco use or exposure. The arteries of the arms and legs become narrowed or blocked, causing lack of blood supply (ischemia) to the fingers, hands, toes, and feet. Pain occurs in the arms, hands and, more frequently, the legs and feet, even when at rest. With severe blockages, the tissue may die (gangrene), requiring amputation of the fingers and toes.
Superficial vein inflammation and symptoms of Raynaud's occur commonly in patients with Buerger's disease.
Peripheral Venous Disease
Veins are flexible, hollow tubes with flaps inside called valves. When your muscles contract, the valves open and blood moves through the veins. When your muscles relax, the valves close, keeping blood flowing in one direction through the veins.
If the valves inside your veins become damaged, the valves may not close completely. This allows blood to flow in both directions. When your muscles relax, the valves inside the damaged vein(s) will not be able to hold the blood. This can cause pooling of blood or swelling in the veins. The veins bulge and appear as ropes under the skin. The blood begins to move more slowly through the veins, it may stick to the sides of the vessel walls and blood clots can form.
Varicose veins are bulging, swollen, purple, ropy veins, seen just under your skin, caused by damaged valves within the veins. They are more common in women than men and often run in families. They can also be caused by pregnancy, being severely overweight, or by standing for long periods of time. The symptoms of varicose veins include:
- Bulging, swollen, purple, ropy, veins seen under the skin.
- Spider veins -- small red or purple bursts on your knees, calves, or thighs, caused by swollen capillaries (small blood vessels).
- Aching, stinging, or swelling of the legs at the end of the day.
Blood Clots In the Veins
Blood clots in the veins are usually caused by:
- Long bed rest and/or immobility.
- Damage to veins from injury or infection.
- Damage to the valves in the vein, causing pooling near the valve flaps.
- Pregnancy and hormones (such as estrogen or birth control pills).
- Genetic disorders.
- Conditions causing slowed blood flow or thicker blood, such as congestive heart failure (CHF), or certain tumors.
There are many types of blood clots that can occur in the veins:
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot occurring in a deep vein.
- Pulmonary embolism is a blood clot that breaks loose from a vein and travels to the lungs.
- Chronic venous insufficiency isn't a blood clot, but a condition that occurs when damaged vein valves or a DVT causes long-term pooling of blood and swelling in the legs. If uncontrolled, fluid will leak into the surrounding tissues in the ankles and feet, and may eventually cause skin breakdown and ulceration.
Blood Clotting Disorders
Blood clotting disorders are conditions that make the blood more likely to form blood clots in the arteries and veins. These conditions may be inherited (congenital, occurring at birth) or acquired during life and include:
- Elevated levels of factors in the blood which cause blood to clot (fibrinogen, factor 8, prothrombin).
- Deficiency of natural anticoagulant (blood-thinning) proteins (antithrombin, protein C, protein S).
- Elevated blood counts.
- Abnormal fibrinolysis (the breakdown of fibrin).
- Abnormal changes in the lining of the blood vessels (endothelium).
What are the symptoms for the heart and vascular disease?
A buildup of fatty plaques in your arteries, or atherosclerosis (ath-ur-o-skluh-ROE-sis) can damage your blood vessels and heart. Plaque buildup causes narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack, chest pain (angina) or stroke.
Coronary artery disease symptoms may be different for men and women. For instance, men are more likely to have chest pain. Women are more likely to have other signs and symptoms along with chest discomfort, such as shortness of breath, Nausea and extreme fatigue.
Signs and symptoms can include:
- Chest pain, chest tightness, chest pressure and chest discomfort (angina)
- Shortness of breath
- Pain, numbness, weakness or coldness in your legs or arms if the blood vessels in those parts of your body are narrowed
- Pain in the neck, jaw, throat, upper abdomen or back
You might not be diagnosed with coronary artery disease until you have a heart attack, angina, stroke or heart failure. It's important to watch for cardiovascular symptoms and discuss concerns with your doctor. Cardiovascular disease can sometimes be found early with regular evaluations.
Heart disease symptoms caused by abnormal heartbeats (heart arrhythmias)
Your heart may beat too quickly, too slowly or irregularly. Heart arrhythmia signs and symptoms can include:
- Fluttering in your chest
- Racing heartbeat (tachycardia)
- Slow heartbeat (bradycardia)
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Shortness of breath
- Fainting (syncope) or near fainting
Heart disease symptoms caused by heart defects
Serious heart defects that you're born with (congenital heart defects) usually are noticed soon after birth. Heart defect signs and symptoms in children could include:
- Pale gray or blue skin color (cyanosis)
- Swelling in the legs, abdomen or areas around the eyes
- In an infant, shortness of breath during feedings, leading to poor weight gain
Less serious congenital heart defects are often not diagnosed until later in childhood or during adulthood. Signs and symptoms of congenital heart defects that usually aren't immediately life-threatening include:
- Easily getting short of breath during exercise or activity
- Easily tiring during exercise or activity
- Swelling in the hands, ankles or feet
Heart disease symptoms caused by diseased heart muscle (cardiomyopathy)
In early stages of cardiomyopathy, you may have no symptoms. As the condition worsens, symptoms may include:
- Breathlessness with activity or at rest
- Swelling of the legs, ankles and feet
- Irregular heartbeats that feel rapid, pounding or fluttering
- Dizziness, lightheadedness and fainting
Heart disease symptoms caused by heart infection
Endocarditis is an infection that affects the inner lining of your heart chambers and heart valves (endocardium). Heart infection signs and symptoms can include:
- Shortness of breath
- Weakness or fatigue
- Swelling in your legs or abdomen
- Changes in your heart rhythm
- Dry or persistent cough
- Skin rashes or unusual spots
Heart disease symptoms caused by heart valve problems (valvular heart disease)
The heart has four valves — the aortic, mitral, pulmonary and tricuspid valves — that open and close to direct blood flow through your heart. Many things can damage your heart valves, leading to narrowing (stenosis), leaking (regurgitation or insufficiency) or improper closing (prolapse).
Depending on which valve isn't working properly, valvular heart disease signs and symptoms generally include:
- Shortness of breath
- Irregular heartbeat
- Swollen feet or ankles
- Chest pain
- Fainting (syncope)
What are the causes for the heart and vascular disease?
Heart disease causes depend on your specific type of heart disease. There are many different types of heart disease. To understand the causes of heart disease, it helps to understand how the heart works.
How the heart works Chambers and valves of the heart Open pop-up dialog box Close Chambers and valves of the heart Chambers and valves of the heart
A typical heart has two upper and two lower chambers. The upper chambers, the right and left atria, receive incoming blood. The lower chambers, the more muscular right and left ventricles, pump blood out of the heart. The heart valves are gates at the chamber openings. They keep blood flowing in the right direction.
Your heart is a pump. It's a muscular organ about the size of your fist, located slightly left of center in your chest. Your heart is divided into the right and the left sides.
- The right side of the heart includes the right atrium and ventricle. It collects and pumps blood to the lungs through the pulmonary arteries.
- The lungs give the blood a new supply of oxygen. The lungs also breathe out carbon dioxide, a waste product.
- Oxygen-rich blood then enters the left side of the heart, including the left atrium and ventricle.
- The left side of the heart pumps blood through the largest artery in the body (aorta) to supply tissues throughout the body with oxygen and nutrients.
Four heart valves keep your blood moving the right way by opening only one way and only when they need to. To work properly, the valves must be formed properly, must open all the way and must close tightly so there's no leakage. The four valves are:
A beating heart squeezes (contracts) and relaxes in a continuous cycle.
- During contraction (systole), your ventricles squeeze tight, forcing blood into the vessels to your lungs and body.
- During relaxation (diastole), the ventricles are filled with blood coming from the upper chambers (left and right atria).
Your heart's electrical wiring keeps it beating. Your heartbeat controls the continuous exchange of oxygen-rich blood with oxygen-poor blood. This exchange keeps you alive.
- Electrical signals begin high in the upper right chamber (right atrium) and travel through specialized pathways to the ventricles, delivering the signal for the heart to pump.
- The system keeps your heart beating in a coordinated and normal rhythm, which keeps blood flowing.
Causes of coronary artery disease Development of atherosclerosis Open pop-up dialog box Close Development of atherosclerosis Development of atherosclerosis
If there's too much cholesterol in the blood, the cholesterol and other substances may form deposits (plaques) that collect on artery walls. Plaques can cause an artery to become narrowed or blocked. If a plaque ruptures, a blood clot can form. Plaques and blood clots can reduce blood flow through an artery.
A buildup of fatty plaques in your arteries (atherosclerosis) is the most common cause of coronary artery disease. Unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as a poor diet, lack of exercise, being overweight and smoking, can lead to atherosclerosis.
Causes of heart arrhythmia
Common causes of arrhythmias or conditions that can lead to arrhythmias include:
- Coronary artery disease
- Drug abuse
- Excessive use of alcohol or caffeine
- Heart defects you're born with (congenital heart defects)
- High blood pressure
- Some over-the-counter medications, prescription medications, dietary supplements and herbal remedies
- Valvular heart disease
In a healthy person with a normal, healthy heart, it's unlikely for a deadly arrhythmia to develop without some outside trigger, such as an electrical shock or the use of illegal drugs. However, in a heart that's diseased or deformed, the heart's electrical signals may not properly start or travel through the heart, making arrhythmias more likely to develop.
Causes of congenital heart defects
Congenital heart defects usually develop while a baby is in the womb. Heart defects can develop as the heart develops, about a month after conception, changing the flow of blood in the heart. Some medical conditions, medications and genes may play a role in causing heart defects.
Heart defects can also develop in adults. As you age, your heart's structure can change, causing a heart defect.
Causes of cardiomyopathy
The cause of cardiomyopathy, a thickening or enlarging of the heart muscle, may depend on the type:
- Dilated cardiomyopathy. The cause of this most common type of cardiomyopathy often is unknown. The condition usually causes the left ventricle to widen. Dilated cardiomyopathy may be caused by reduced blood flow to the heart (ischemic heart disease) resulting from damage after a heart attack, infections, toxins and certain drugs, including those used to treat cancer. It may also be inherited from a parent.
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. This type usually is passed down through families (inherited). It can also develop over time because of high blood pressure or aging.
- Restrictive cardiomyopathy. This least common type of cardiomyopathy, which causes the heart muscle to become rigid and less elastic, can occur for no known reason. Or it may be caused by diseases, such as connective tissue disorders or the buildup of abnormal proteins (amyloidosis).
Causes of heart infection
A heart infection, such as endocarditis, is caused when germs reach your heart muscle. The most common causes of heart infection include:
Causes of valvular heart disease
Many things can cause diseases of your heart valves. You may be born with valvular disease, or the valves may be damaged by conditions such as:
- Rheumatic fever
- Infections (infectious endocarditis)
- Connective tissue disorders
What are the treatments for the heart and vascular disease?
The type of treatment you receive depends on the type of heart disease you have. In general, treatment for heart disease usually includes:
- Lifestyle changes. You can lower your risk of heart disease by eating a low-fat and low-sodium diet, getting at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most days of the week, quitting smoking, and limiting alcohol intake.
- Medications. If lifestyle changes alone aren't enough, your doctor may prescribe medications to control your heart disease. The type of medication you receive will depend on the type of heart disease.
- Medical procedures or surgery. If medications aren't enough, it's possible your doctor will recommend specific procedures or surgery. The type of procedure or surgery will depend on the type of heart disease and the extent of the damage to your heart.
What are the risk factors for the heart and vascular disease?
Risk factors for developing heart disease include:
- Age. Growing older increases your risk of damaged and narrowed arteries and a weakened or thickened heart muscle.
- Sex. Men are generally at greater risk of heart disease. The risk for women increases after menopause.
- Family history. A family history of heart disease increases your risk of coronary artery disease, especially if a parent developed it at an early age (before age 55 for a male relative, such as your brother or father, and 65 for a female relative, such as your mother or sister).
- Smoking. Nicotine tightens your blood vessels, and carbon monoxide can damage their inner lining, making them more susceptible to atherosclerosis. Heart attacks are more common in smokers than in nonsmokers.
- Poor diet. A diet that's high in fat, salt, sugar and cholesterol can contribute to the development of heart disease.
- High blood pressure. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can result in hardening and thickening of your arteries, narrowing the vessels through which blood flows.
- High blood cholesterol levels. High levels of cholesterol in your blood can increase the risk of plaque formation and atherosclerosis.
- Diabetes. Diabetes increases your risk of heart disease. Both conditions share similar risk factors, such as obesity and high blood pressure.
- Obesity. Excess weight typically worsens other heart disease risk factors.
- Physical inactivity. Lack of exercise also is associated with many forms of heart disease and some of its other risk factors as well.
- Stress. Unrelieved stress may damage your arteries and worsen other risk factors for heart disease.
- Poor dental health. It's important to brush and floss your teeth and gums often, and have regular dental checkups. If your teeth and gums aren't healthy, germs can enter your bloodstream and travel to your heart, causing endocarditis.
Is there a cure/medications for the heart and vascular disease?
The Heart and Vascular disease demand the patient to induce in their lives changes such as eating healthy, exercising regularly, and not smoking. However, certain medications or surgeries help doctors deal with the heart and vascular disease to a great extent.
- Medications- Medicines often provided by the doctors to treat heart and vascular diseases include-
- Cholesterol Drugs- Medicines can help reduce cholesterol levels in the body and reduce plaque buildup in the blood arteries. Some of these medicines include niacin, fibrates, statins, etc.
- Beta-Blockers- These medicines are used by the doctor to slow the heart rate. The blood pressure is also lowered to reduce the risk of future heart attacks.
- Aspirin- Aspirin makes the blood thin so that the formation of clots is prevented. Consequently, it helps in preventing heart attacks or strokes.
- Calcium Channel Blockers- If beta-blockers are not effective on you or you are unable to consume them due to some issue; you can make use of calcium channel blockers to help reduce chest pains.
- Ranolazine- This medication is given by the doctors to the patients to help them with chest pain, and can also act as an alternative to beta-blockers.
- Nitroglycerin- This medicine is used to widen the arteries in the heart, so that chest pain can be controlled or relieved. Nitroglycerin can be used in the form of a pill or a spray.
- Surgeries- If the medications do not provide the desired result or the vascular problem is too severe, surgeries are performed to fix a blocked artery. They include Coronary angioplasty and stent placement, or Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery (CABG).
List of symptoms
Numbness or weakness in muscles,Wounds on the pressure points,Burning pain,Restricted mobility
List of conditions
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm,Deep Vein Thrombosis,Chronic Venous Insufficiency,Carotic Artery Disease,Intermittent Claudication,Atherosclerosis
List of Drugs
Ranolazine,Nitroglycerin,Calcium Channel Blockers,Aspirin