What Causes Cardiovascular Disease?
In Canada, an estimated 1.3 million people are affected by cardiovascular (aka heart) disease. While some suffer from congenital (from birth) heart disease others acquire the condition later in life, due to a variety of factors including family history, poor diet and lack of exercise, smoking, drinking alcohol, diabetes, stress and high blood pressure.
Heart disease can lead to severe and sudden health incidents such as cardiac arrest or heart attack.
At First Edition First Aid, we want you to be prepared in cases of a cardiac emergency. Take a First Aid course and have an AED nearby. Don’t be caught in an emergency situation where you are unable to assist due to lack of training and/or knowledge.
What is heart disease?
Cardiovascular disease or heart disease is a condition that affects the structure or function of the heart. Heart disease is not just one singular condition but, in
fact, a group of conditions that have various root causes.
The conditions can be categorized based on how they affect the function or structure of the heart, including:
- Coronary artery and vascular disease;
- Heart rhythm disorder;
- Structural heart disease; and
- Heart failure.
What are the different types of heart disease conditions?
The Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation lists the following as heart disease conditions:
- Atrial fibrillation
- Cardiac arrest
- Congenital heart disease
- Coronary artery disease
- Enlarged heart
- Heart attack
- Heart block
- Heart failure
- Infective (bacterial) endocarditis
- Inherited rhythm disorders (IRDs)
- Kawasaki disease
- Long Q-T syndrome
- Marfan syndrome
- Peripartum Cardiomyopathy (PPCM)
- Rheumatic heart disease
- Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD)
- Valvular heart disease
- Vascular cognitive impairment
What causes cardiovascular disease?
Heart disease can be caused by genetics, a medical condition, lifestyle choices or a combination of all three. Those with South Asian, African or Indigenous backgrounds tend to be more susceptible to heart disease.
As well, older women are more at risk of developing heart disease for many reasons. Read our blog Heart Disease – Differences in Men and Women for more detail.
People with diabetes and/or high blood pressure are at higher risk of developing heart disease.
Managing symptoms and early intervention is key to reversing heart disease and prolonging one’s life. To find out how to reverse heart disease, which is sometimes possible, read our blog Can Heart Disease be Reversed.
Symptoms of Cardiovascular Disease
The more common symptoms include but are not limited to:
- 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; and
- Pain in the neck, jaw, throat, upper abdomen or back.
Heart disease is preventable. The Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation recommends the following to decrease the chances of developing cardiovascular disease:
- Don’t smoke;
- Stay active;
- Monitor and control blood pressure;
- Adopt and maintain a healthy diet low in saturated and trans fat;
- Control diabetes;
- Limit drug and alcohol consumption;
- Reduce stress; and
- Visit a family doctor on a regular basis.
Early prevention is key to staying healthy both in mind and body. Making small changes in your life can save your life!
Have you been diagnosed with a heart disease? You can still enjoy life! Read our blog Living with Heart Disease – How to Enjoy Life to learn more!