Heart Disease Treatment & Risk Factors To Watch For

By: Agnus Smith
Published: Thursday, November 15 2018
Last Updated: a month ago

Your heart is your lifeline, and the thought of disease is frightening for just about everyone. Luckily, there have been incredible strides in medicine and technology over the past decades that should help put your mind at ease. Today, there are vaccinations that have largely eliminated diseases and illness that once ran rampant across the globe, studies that have created healthier populations, and even treatment for heart disease.

For some, genetics will play a major role in their overall health, and for others, it will be a combination of lifestyle, diet, and even some habits. Regardless of where you fall, it’s important to be proactive when it comes to the health of your heart, and know what potential factors you may be at risk for. Here’s what to you should be watching out for, and what happens if you ever do get diagnosed with heart disease.

What Is Heart Disease?

Heart disease is often the shorthand term for what is known as coronary heart disease, which is one of several forms of cardiovascular diseases. Heart disease is a blood vessel disorder that can lead to more detrimental health problems, such as heart attacks. It stems from blockage of the coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart. Once you have heart disease, there are treatments you can seek, but you will always be at a higher risk for heart attack.

As of now, heart disease is the number one cause of death in the US, killing over 600,000 people each year. Aside from heart attack and death, coronary heart disease can also lead to disabilities, which may make you eligible for Medicare.

How To Treat Heart Disease

Heart disease treatment will provide benefits, but as mentioned before, you will still be at a higher risk for heart attack. That being said, there are plenty of treatments available, but most fall under two categories, medication and procedures.

Drugs And Medication

The drugs and medication that your doctor prescribes to you will largely depend on the type of heart disease you have. Typically, medication is used to lower blood pressure by relaxing the vessels and creating an easier path to your heart. The following are some of the most popular prescriptions for patients living with heart disease:

  • Anticoagulants
  • Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers (ARBs)
  • Calcium Channel Blockers
  • Cholesterol-Lowering
  • Diuretics
  • Vasodilators

Medical And Surgical Procedures

Medical and surgical procedures for heart disease treatment are more intensive than medication and are often used as a last resort. As with medication, the type of procedure a patient will undergo will largely depend on the type of heart disease they have. Some of the most common and popular procedures that patients undergo include the following:

  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
  • Heart Bypass Surgery
  • Valve Disease Treatment
  • Pacemakers
  • Heart Transplant
  • Stents

What Are Some Of The Causes Of Heart Disease?

Sticking with the common theme, the cause of heart disease will likely vary depending on the type of heart disease someone has. However, most commonly, the blood vessel disorder stems from a buildup of fatty plaques (atherosclerosis) in the arteries. Due to the build-up, it becomes increasingly more difficult for blood to flow to through your body to your major organs.

Early Signs And Risk Factors To Watch For

As with many diseases and conditions, there’s not always a clear indicator of when something is wrong. However, there are definitely early signs and symptoms of heart disease that you want to be cautious of. Unfortunately, most will only begin to notice symptoms when after heart disease has already developed, and many of the signs may point to a heart attack. Some of the early symptoms of heart disease include:

  • Discomfort of the chest
  • Nausea
  • Heartburn
  • Indigestion
  • Cold sweat
  • Fatigue
  • Loss or shortness of breath
  • Dizziness

Symptoms may vary from person to person, and some may even experience heart disease or attack symptoms that aren’t listed. So, if you feel that something may not be right, it’s a good idea to seek out the opinion of a medical professional. Don’t wait.

There are also certain individuals who may be more at risk for heart disease than others. For example, as we get older (especially for men) the risk for heart disease increases. The same goes for people with a genetic or family history of heart disease. Talk to your doctor to find out whether or not you are at a higher risk for heart disease, and take the necessary steps to protect yourself.

Preventing Cardiovascular Disease

As just mentioned, there are some people who will be at higher risk for cardiovascular disease because of genetic predispositions, along with things that are out of their control. However, there are steps you can take to greatly reduce your chance for cardiovascular disease. Making the following changes to your lifestyle or diet are good places to start:

  • If you’re a smoker, quit smoking.
  • Make sure you are putting healthy foods into your body.
  • Staying physically active.
  • Keeping your weight down.
  • Managing your diabetes, cholesterol, and blood pressure.
  • Minimizing the stress in your life.
  • Limit the intake of both alcohol and drugs.

Have We Found A Cure For Heart Disease Yet?

For some cardiovascular disease, there are ways a patient can be cured. According to Do Omid Hajiseyed Javadi of Good Samaritan Hospital, “if there is a valvular problem, replacing or repairing valves can be a curable treatment depending on the age of the patient.” As we mentioned before, not all cases of heart disease are the same, so while certain procedures can help with specific conditions, that may not be the case.

Dr. Javadi goes on to discuss in further detail that if there are, for example, disorders of blood vessels due to genetics, there might not be much you can do in terms of reversing heart disease. However, being proactive and making lifestyle changes can help you live a happier and healthier life, and greatly reduce the impact heart disease may have on you.