Heart diseases such as heart disease, heart failure, and arrhythmia are more common than people think.
Millions of people live every day with some form of heart disease.
Whether you've had your condition for a long time, have a friend or family member with a heart condition, or are still struggling to adjust to a recent diagnosis, we'd like to share a guide to heart disease with you.
What are some common heart diseases?
It's helpful to know what some of the most common heart conditions are, as this will give you a good basis for understanding what's going on. The most common heart diseases are:
- Coronary heart disease - occurs when the heart's blood vessels become narrowed or blocked, causing not enough blood to reach the heart
- angina - pain or discomfort in your chest, arms, neck, stomach, or jaw due to restricted blood flow to the heart
- Unstable angina - caused by undiagnosed chest pain or sudden worsening of angina. The attacks occur more frequently with less and less activity and can last up to 10 minutes.
- Heart attack - occurs when blood flow to parts of the heart muscle is completely blocked
- Heart failure - the heart does not pump properly to supply the body with enough blood or oxygen
- Arrhythmia - irregular heartbeat
- Valve disease - problems with the heart valves that put pressure on the heart muscle
- High blood pressure - high blood pressure that affects the heart and can lead to other conditions
- Congenital heart disease - an abnormality or defect in the development of the fetus in the womb
- Inherited heart disease - conditions that run through families and affect any age
Understand your diagnosis
First things first, you'll need to get a diagnosis of your heart condition so you know exactly how your life will change, and what you're dealing with. Once you have had a chance to grasp the diagnosis, you should consider doing some research to help you understand your heart condition.
It is important to understand the condition you have and the effects it may have on you and your lifestyle. By knowing all this, you will have a better understanding of the adjustments that you will need to make in your life.
This can all be a lot to take in, so make sure you take things at your own pace and really give time to digest the information and how you feel.
Get the right doctors
When diagnosed with a heart condition, it is important to find the right doctors to help you. Ideally, your regular doctor will refer you to a specialist. A specialist, such as a cardiologist, will be able to help you get the right treatment.
A cardiologist is specifically trained in diagnosing, evaluating and treating patients with defects in the heart and blood vessels (also known as the cardiovascular system). While other doctors may be able to help you in the short term, it is important to ask for a referral to a cardiologist if you haven't already.
After you've been diagnosed with heart disease, you'll likely need to make some adjustments to your daily life to make sure you stay healthy. For example, one of the big things you might be advised to change is your diet. A heart-healthy diet can do wonders for your overall quality of life and can reduce your chance of heart disease or stroke by 80%. There are many things that make up a healthy diet, such as avoiding processed, fried, and sugary foods. Fresh, "real" foods are the foundation of a healthy diet.
Exercise is also a big part of a healthy cardio. Among other things, exercise can:
- Raising HDL cholesterol (the good kind)
- Lowering LDL cholesterol (the bad kind)
- Get rid of fat around the middle area
- lowers blood pressure
- Reducing the risk of developing diabetes and improving its control
Depending on the severity of your heart condition and your level of risk, your cardiologist may recommend specific exercises you can do to improve your heart health. There may also be exercises that you are advised to avoid, as they may be too intense or strenuous and therefore will put a lot of pressure on your heart.