Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a term used to describe any disease that affects your heart or blood vessels. These can include, but are not limited to:
- Strokes: Blood clots breaking off and travelling to your brain, causing tissue damage
- Coronary Microvascular Disease (MVD): Heart disease related to blockages of tiny branch vessels of the heart tissue
- Hypertension: Abnormally high blood pressure
- Congenital Heart Disease: Abnormal or poor-functioning heart structures that occur before birth
- Atherosclerosis: Buildup of fatty deposits of plaque on the inside of your arteries
- Heart Attack: Damage to the heart caused by inadequate oxygen supply
The damage these diseases can have varies based on the condition and the patient. Some are mild and require minimal treatment, while others may require surgical correction and lifelong care. Your doctor can help you determine whether you may have heart disease and the best ways to manage your health.
Regular primary care plays an important role in disease prevention and overall wellness. If you do not have a primary care physician, we invite you to visit our Primary Care website to find quality care close to home.
Our doctors, clinicians and staff members are devoted to providing the best care possible, delivered with human touch. We call it Humancare. We are committed to treating each and every person we serve with dignity and respect. To schedule an appointment with a specialist of the Seton Heart Institute, please call toll-free 877-860-1141 or request an appointment online.
Wellness & Prevention
There are many factors that increase your risk of developing heart disease. Age, genetics and lifestyle all play big parts in determining how at risk you are. However, the majority of CVD is preventable with the right lifestyle choices. Heart-healthy foods, regular exercise and stopping tobacco use all contribute towards a stronger heart.
Proper management of pre-existing health conditions can help prevent CVD as well. Many types of cardiovascular conditions increase the chances of developing others. Taking care of conditions that already affect you, such as hypertension or diabetes, can help prevent a diagnosis of more serious heart concerns.
Regular medical check-ups are essential to catching CVD early. Depending on your lifestyle and genetic factors, you may be at higher risk for some forms of heart disease than others. CVD can be hard to diagnose, as many types of heart health issues have no symptoms. High blood pressure and atherosclerosis often will have no symptoms until life-threatening complications or a cardiac event (like a heart attack) occur. This is why it’s so important to have regular medical screenings to check your heart health.
Screening for Heart Disease
Your doctor can help you assess level of risk of contracting heart disease. Certain demographics are at higher risk for CVD than others. People above the age of 65 are more likely to develop heart conditions, and women are more likely to die from heart attacks than men. However, just because you are in a higher risk group doesn’t mean you should worry. Your doctor will use a variety to tests to see how at risk you are for developing heart problems.
In addition to checking your physical condition, lifestyle habits and family history, your doctor may perform tests and check blood markers to determine your overall health:
- HDL and LDL cholesterol levels
- Triglycerides and blood glucose
- Exercise stress tests
These screenings are the best way to tell if you are at risk for a heart condition.
There are no specific cures for CVD. Some diseases, such as high blood pressure, are chronic and have no known treatments aside from managing the symptoms with medication and your lifestyle. For heart health concerns like this, prevention and symptom management are the primary goals. Depending on how severe your condition is, many forms of heart disease can be managed with basic modifications to your daily routine:
- Increase your exercise intake to the American Heart Association’s recommendation (150 minutes a week of moderate-level exercise)
- Decrease your intake of saturated and trans fats, and increase your intake of nutrient-dense vegetables, fruits, lean protein and healthy fats
- Stop tobacco and alcohol use
- Decrease your body fat to healthy levels if you are overweight
- Manage other health conditions that may place stress on your body and increase your risk of developing further disease
Other treatments for heart disease include oral medication, and implanting devices to control your heartbeat or help your heart pump enough blood. For serious heart concerns, surgery may be needed, including a full heart transplant.
The best way to manage CVD is to change your lifestyle to prevent it from ever occurring. However, if you do have heart disease, managing your symptoms can be easier than you think in most cases. Heart conditions in their beginning stages generally only need medication and basic lifestyle changes to manage. If the disease is allowed to progress, maintenance becomes harder. Getting regular screenings to catch the disease early will provide you with the most favorable outcome and best quality of life.