World Heart Day 2017

What is cardiovascular disease?

Cardiovascular disease is a general term for a set of conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels, and include high blood pressure (hypertension), stroke, heart attack, and atherosclerosis, which is the accumulation of fat deposits in the arteries.

One heart, different diseases
Below is a brief description of common cardiovascular diseases.

Heart attack is one of the most common causes of death from cardiovascular diseases and is usually due to another condition called atherosclerosis. It happens when the blood supply to the heart is blocked. Although a heart attack may not be fatal, it is likely to damage the heart.

Besides causing heart attack, atherosclerosis can also cause stroke and hypertension. Atherosclerosis is a condition that happens over a period of time and the arteries may become so narrow that they cannot deliver enough blood to the heart.

Another event that frequently leads to death is called cardiac arrest. Different from a heart attack, cardiac arrest is an electrical problem that makes the heart malfunction and suddenly stops. If the victim does not receive immediate help, death occurs within minutes.

An underlying condition that affects 1 in 4 people in the world is hypertension. You may not feel or notice high blood pressure, but it greatly increases your risk to develop other cardiovascular diseases, such as stroke and heart failure. The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to have it measured by a nurse or doctor and the earlier you find out, the better chances to treat it and prevent other cardiovascular diseases. There are many risk factors associated with hypertension, including age (although it can also affect children), smoking, unhealthy diet, and physical inactivity. It can also be related to other health conditions, such as diabetes and obesity.
Heart failure is a chronic condition that significantly reduces the quality of life. Heart failure is when the heart is inefficient and can’t pump blood adequately to meet the body’s needs. The most common reason to develop heart failure is due to damage to the heart muscle, for example after a heart attack. It can also be caused by hypertension and irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia).