Symptoms and Causes of Cardiovascular Disease.
By: Patrick Mansfield | U.S. Health Alerts

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the leading cause of death in the United States is heart disease.  Heart Disease, includes coronary artery disease, heart arrhythmias, congenital heart defects and blood vessel diseases. Most conditions that affect the heart's valves, muscle or rhythm are a type of heart disease. While some forms of heart disease are genetic, many cases can be treated or prevented through lifestyle changes. 

Symptoms of Heart Disease 

The symptoms will depend on the type of heart disease. If someone suffers from heart arrhythmias, they will naturally have different symptoms than someone who has heart disease in the blood vessels. 

Abnormal Heartbeat Symptoms 

Some with a heart arrhythmia may notice that their heart beats too fast or too slow. This may feel like fluttering in your chest or a racing heartbeat. It could feel like an overly slow heartbeat, chest pain, shortness of breath or discomfort. You may have symptoms like dizziness or lightheadedness. It may feel like you are about to faint, or you may actually faint. 

Symptoms of Blood Vessel Disorders 

For many heart disorders, the symptoms can vary between men and women. Men often suffer from chest pain. Women will often have other symptoms like nausea, chest discomfort, extreme fatigue or shortness of breath. 

Blood vessel disorders can cause shortness of breath, chest tightness, chest pain, pressure in the chest or chest discomfort. You may feel pain in your jaw, neck, upper abdomen, back or throat. You may also suffer from coldness, weakness, pain or numbness in the arms and legs if those blood vessels become narrowed. Unfortunately, many people will not be diagnosed with cardiovascular disease unless they have a stroke, heart attack or heart failure. 

Symptoms of a Weakened Heart 

Also known as dilated cardiomyopathy, a weakened heart may not cause any symptoms initially. As the condition becomes worse, individuals may develop symptoms like fatigue, dizziness or fainting. They may have swelling in their ankles, legs, and feet. When the individual is at rest or exercising, they may quickly become breathless. The individual may suffer from lightheadedness, irregular heartbeats or a fluttering heartbeat. 

Individuals should see a doctor if they have chest pain, fainting or shortness of breath. Heart disease is easier to treat when it is caught early, so it is important to seek out professional medical care right away. 

The Causes of Heart Disease 

There are a number of different things that can cause heart disease. One cause is atherosclerosis. This is the medical term for when fatty plaque builds up in your arteries. The plaque starts to thicken and causes the artery walls to stiffen. Over time, this can prevent blood from flowing properly through your arteries, your organs, and your tissues. 

Atherosclerosis is the biggest cause of heart disease. It is typically caused by lifestyle habits like smoking or an unhealthy diet. Being overweight and a lack of exercise can increase the chances of developing this problem. 

Heart arrhythmias can be caused by coronary heart disease, diabetes, smoking, drug abuse or stress. It can be caused by a congenital heart defect that someone is born with. Heart arrhythmias can also be caused by high blood pressure or excessive use of caffeine or alcohol. Certain over-the-counter medication, supplements or prescription medications can cause heart arrhythmias. 

Someone who has a healthy heart is unlikely to get a fatal arrhythmia without an outside cause. This could be using illegal drugs, electrical shock or a similar problem. Normally, healthy hearts are free of scarred tissue. If the heart is deformed or diseased, then an arrhythmia is more likely to develop. This is because the electrical impulses in the heart do not function properly. 

Infections, excessive iron in the body, abnormal protein buildup, toxins and certain drugs can cause cardiomyopathy. A previous heart attack can cause damage. Likewise, cancer treatments, aging, and high blood pressure can cause changes to the heart. For all of these changes, it is important to seek professional medical care. In addition, patients should work to limit lifestyle factors that might lead to heart disease.
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