Heart diseases

All about diseases of the cardiovascular system


Heart disease, or a group of cardiovascular diseases, is the main cause of human death. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports: each year, diseases of the cardiovascular system are among the leading causes of death among all other diseases. According to experts, this group of diseases takes more than a third of human lives on earth. The main diseases are coronary heart disease and stroke. However, despite the prevalence of diseases of the cardiovascular system, most people still do not have enough information and are dominated by misconceptions about their causes and symptoms. The main myths about the effect of parental illnesses on children, about indispensable pain with a heart attack, signs of high blood pressure, etc.

Heart Disease - The Lot of the Elderly

This is one of the most harmful misconceptions. Yes, in old age, problems with the heart and blood vessels are noted more often than in young people or, especially, in children. By the beginning of the retirement age, pathologies of the heart and blood vessels are diagnosed in 70% of the population, and the older the person, the higher the likelihood of illness.

However, young people cannot be excluded from the risk group, “more often in the elderly” does not mean “only in the elderly”. Today, doctors are sounding the alarm: heart attacks and strokes are getting younger, the age threshold for diseases has decreased, and the reason is bad habits and unhealthy diets.

Improper diet, alcohol, smoking, lack of physical activity and overweight are the main factors in the development of pathologies of the cardiovascular system. Even the formation of atherosclerotic plaques is no longer a sign of the coming retirement age, they can form both in childhood and during puberty. And then the question is only in the time of blockage of the vessel.

The abundance of various foods and a sedentary lifestyle lead to the fact that more and more young people are diagnosed with excess weight and type 2 diabetes. And in the twenty-first century, this form of diabetes is noted even in children of early school age. The danger of a stroke also does not pass young people: vascular pathology is increasingly detected in people 30-35 years old.

Most of the risk factors affecting the health of both young and old people can be eliminated, and it is necessary to deal with the eradication of bad habits from childhood.

Cardiovascular diseases threaten mostly men

And this is also a very harmful myth. Moreover, in the past 25 years, everything is exactly the opposite: diseases of the cardiovascular system cause the death of women more often than men. This is the main cause of death in women aged 65 and over. And this situation began back in 1984, according to a WHO report. Therefore, it is fundamentally wrong to say that cardiovascular diseases threaten mainly the male sex, and the female is practically at risk.

High blood pressure can immediately be identified by symptoms

Another harmful myth. The initial stage of hypertension often goes completely unnoticed, revealed at a routine examination or when contacting a doctor with complaints of a different nature. High blood pressure can really be overlooked, and for quite some time.

More than one billion people with high blood pressure live on our planet. And many hypertensive patients do not even know about their disease, attributing the symptoms to other diseases and pathologies. Each year, hypertension causes the death of 7.5 million people. The World Health Organization describes hypertension as one of the dangerous but preventable causes of diseases of the cardiovascular system, urging you to pay attention to blood pressure and start therapy on time.

According to expert forecasts, the number of people with high blood pressure (exceeding 140/90 mmHg) in the world is constantly growing. And this is due to insufficient knowledge about hypertension, the risks that accompany it, and treatment methods. Blood pressure should be checked regularly, even if there are no known signs of hypertension.

A heart attack is always a pain in the heart

Another harmful myth complicating the timely diagnosis of the disease and patient care. Not every heart attack is accompanied by pain in the chest and left arm, although these are the most common symptoms of myocardial infarction. But there are others that must not be forgotten.

A heart attack can be accompanied by pain in the shoulder girdle, pain can spread to the back or give to the jaw, nausea and vomiting, respiratory failure may occur. It all depends on the state of the body, and on the place of circulatory disorders in the heart. Moreover, a heart attack can occur without obvious symptoms: a person does not feel pain or nausea, only malaise. And only during the examination it is possible to diagnose the presence of a heart attack in the patient's history.

“My parents have heart disease, which means I’ll definitely get sick too. This does not change ”

This is not a clear myth, but a partial fallacy. Partial - because, according to statistics, people whose relatives suffer from diseases and pathologies of the cardiovascular system are included in the risk group. If parents are frequent patients of a cardiologist, they are familiar with the vascular surgeon firsthand, and not only parents, but also relatives and family members have such diseases, the likelihood of developing pathologies of the cardiovascular system in their children is higher.

However, do not forget that not only parents and heredity determine the risks of cardiovascular disease. The main factors are the same - harmful and harmful addictions, unhealthy lifestyle, lack of attention to your body. And if you change the situation, changing bad habits to healthy ones, changing the diet, increasing physical activity, then the risk of developing cardiovascular problems can be significantly reduced, despite the genetic predisposition.

And although the statistics speak of a “family inclination” to cardiac and vascular diseases, it must be taken into account: often we inherit from parents not only physiological characteristics, but also commitment to a certain lifestyle. And in this case, the health of a person with not the most favorable heredity can be significantly strengthened by fairly simple preventive measures.

Chronic heart failure

Heart failure is a common heart disease due to poor blood supply to vital organs. Violations occur regardless of human activity (both at rest and during exertion). As the pathology develops, the heart gradually loses its ability to fill and empty. The main symptoms of heart disease:

  • Puffiness of the peripheral nature. Initially, it occurs in the feet and lower legs, and then spreads to the hips and lower back.
  • Dyspnea.
  • General weakness, fatigue.
  • Dry cough. As the disease develops, the patient begins to produce sputum, and then blood impurities.

Pathology forces the patient to take a supine position, with his head raised. Otherwise, cough and shortness of breath only intensify. The list of the main factors contributing to the development of the disease is quite large:

  • Ischemia.
  • Heart attack
  • Hypertension
  • Diseases in which the endocrine system is damaged (the presence of diabetes mellitus, problems with the thyroid gland, adrenal glands).
  • Improper nutrition, which leads to the development of cachexia or obesity.

Among other factors that are the causes of the development of cardiovascular failure, congenital and acquired heart defects, sarcidosis, pericarditis, and HIV infection are distinguished. To minimize the likelihood of the occurrence of the disease, the patient is recommended to exclude from his life the use of alcoholic beverages, caffeine in high doses, smoking, follow a healthy diet.

Treatment should be comprehensive and timely, otherwise the development of pathology can lead to irreversible consequences - this is fatal, increased heart, rhythm disturbance, blood clots. To avoid possible complications, doctors prescribe patients a special therapeutic diet, optimal physical activity. Drug therapy is based on the use of inhibitors, adenoblockers, diuretics, anticoagulants. Implantation of artificial pacemakers may also be necessary.

Valvular heart disease

A group of serious diseases affecting heart valves. They lead to a violation of the basic functions of the body - blood circulation and sealing chambers. The most common pathologies include stenosis. It is caused by narrowing of the aortic opening, which creates serious obstacles to the blood outflow from the left ventricle.

The acquired form most often occurs due to rheumatic valve damage. As the disease progresses, the flaps are subject to severe deformation, which leads to their coalescence and, accordingly, reduction of the ring. The development of infectious endocarditis, renal failure and rheumatoid arthritis also contributes to the onset of the disease.

Often a congenital form can be diagnosed at a young age (up to thirty years) and even in adolescence. Therefore, one should take into account the fact that the rapid development of pathology is promoted by the use of alcoholic beverages, nicotine, and a systematic increase in blood pressure.

For a long time (with compensation of stenosis), a person may practically not experience any symptoms. There is no external clinical picture of the disease. The first signs appear in the form of shortness of breath during physical exertion, heart palpitations, feelings of malaise, general weakness, loss of strength.

Syncope, dizziness, angina puffiness and swelling of the respiratory tract are often manifested in the stage of coronary insufficiency. Shortness of breath can disturb the patient even at night, when the body is not subject to any stress and is at rest.

Patients with heart disease (including those that are asymptomatic) should be monitored by a cardiologist and examined. So, in particular, every six months, patients undergo echocardiography. Medications are prescribed in order to stop the ailment and prevent possible complications. For preventive purposes, antibiotics must be taken.

At the same time, the main treatment method is to replace the affected area of ​​the aortic valve with an artificial one. After surgery, patients should take anticoagulants for the rest of their lives.

Congenital malformations

Pathology is often diagnosed in the early stages of infants (immediately after birth, the child is subject to a thorough examination). It is formed at the stage of fetal development. The main signs of heart disease:

  • Discoloration of the skin. They become pale, often acquire a bluish tint.
  • There is respiratory and heart failure.
  • There are noises in the heart.
  • The child may lag behind in physical development.

In most cases, the main treatment method is surgery. Often, it is not possible to completely eliminate the defect or is not possible. Under such circumstances, a heart transplant should be performed. Drug therapy is aimed at eliminating the symptoms, preventing the development of chronic failure, arrhythmias.

According to statistics, in 70% of cases, the first year of life ends deadly for the child. The prognosis is significantly improved if the disease was detected in the early stages. The main prevention is the careful planning of pregnancy, which implies the observance of the correct lifestyle, the elimination of risk factors, regular monitoring and implementation of all the recommendations of the attending physician.

Arrhythmia and cardiomyopathy

Cardiomyopathy is a myocardial disease that is not associated with an ischemic or inflammatory origin. Clinical manifestations depend on the form of the pathological process. Common symptoms include shortness of breath that occurs during physical exertion, pain in the chest area, dizziness, fatigue, pronounced swelling. Mostly shown is the use of diuretics, anticoagulants, and antiarrhythmic drugs. Surgeon intervention may be required.

Arrhythmia is characterized by any rhythm disturbance. This type of pathology includes tachycardia, bradycardia, atrial fibrillation. One of the forms is considered extrasystole. In most cases, it is asymptomatic, but as the disease progresses, there is a rapid or slow heartbeat, periodic fading. Accompanied by headache, dizziness, pain in the chest area. In the process of treatment, both drug therapy and surgical methods are used.

Inflammatory diseases

The clinical manifestations of heart inflammation depend on which tissue structure was involved during the progression of the pathology:

  • Endocarditis. The inflammatory process affects the heart membranes.
  • Myocarditis is characterized by damage to the heart muscle.
  • Pericarditis. This disease is characterized by localization of inflammation in the pericardial sac.

Common symptoms include pain, heart rhythm disturbance, shortness of breath. If an infectious process has been involved, patients have an elevated body temperature.

Not all heart diseases are indicated. The list of titles goes on. So, for example, often mental (against the background of the prevalence of the vagus nerve) or physical overstrain can lead to neurosis, vegetovascular dystonia, mitral valve prolapse (primary and secondary form), or a disorder of a different nature.

Modern diagnostic methods make it possible to quickly establish the presence of pathology and take all necessary measures. Most heart diseases cannot be cured to the end, but they can be stopped, alleviated the general condition of the patient, minimized risks or prevent possible disability.

The risk group includes both men and women, but most ailments can be diagnosed only at an older, often elderly age. The main problem in the treatment is the untimely request for qualified help, which in the future can strongly bind and limit the possibilities of modern medicine.

It is important to follow all the doctor's recommendations, take the prescribed medications and lead an appropriate lifestyle. If we are talking about alternative methods and means of treatment, then before using them you need to consult a specialist.

Pathological changes

Inflammatory heart disease

Valve defects

  • Acquired heart disease

The most common include heart valve disease. The dysfunction of the heart valves is that they leak blood, or that they do not open enough. Most heart valve diseases are the result of an infectious lesion or autoimmune reaction.

Congenital heart defects are caused by various genetic disorders or damage to the fetus during dysembryogenesis.

The most serious conditions include tetralogy of Fallot.She appears in the period of the formation of the fetus. Four main factors contribute to its occurrence: the presence of an opening in the interventricular septum, narrowing of the channel through which blood flows from the right ventricle to the pulmonary artery, displacement of the aorta in the direction of the right ventricle, and thickening of the wall of the right ventricle of the heart. All this leads to the fact that mixed (saturated and oxygen-free) blood circulates in the body. As a result of oxygen starvation, the skin and mucous membranes of children suffering from tetralogy of Fallot acquires a bluish tint (doctors call this condition cyanosis).

With a very slight increase in physical activity, attacks and increased cyanosis are possible, which often leads to impaired growth and development of the child. Until the mid 1940s the prognosis for such a disease was unfavorable, in most cases, death occurred before puberty. Currently, surgical interventions for the plasty of this defect and improve the quality of life of the patient are being successfully performed. Alfred Blalock, an American surgeon from Baltimore, was a pioneer in open heart surgery for babies with severe cyanosis. In 1944, he first plastered a hole in the interventricular septum. The operation consists in correcting a defect in the interventricular septum and expanding the lumen of the pulmonary artery. Treatment should be carried out depending on the severity of symptoms immediately after birth or a little later, in infancy. Therefore, it is very important to establish an accurate diagnosis in a timely manner and send the newborn to the appropriate cardiac surgery department.

Among other congenital heart defects: defects of the atrial and interventricular septa, stenosis (narrowing) of the valves, the open arterial duct (the blood goes around the lungs), etc. Most of these conditions can be eliminated by surgical methods. The timing of surgery depends on the nature of the defect, symptoms and severity of the condition.

Arterial hypertension

  • Hypertension
  • Arterial hypertension

This is a serious disease that increases the risk of heart attacks and hemorrhages. In the arteries of an adult during a heart contraction, the pressure is 120-140 mm Hg, and during its expansion it drops to 80-90 mm Hg. If these indicators increase, they speak of increased pressure (hypertension), which leads to very serious consequences.

In developed countries, the rate of people suffering from hypertension is quite high; in 90% of cases, this disease is not associated with any single, easily removable cause; an integrated approach is needed in treatment.

Ischemic lesions

  • Myocardial infarction

The cause of myocardial infarction (emergency) is a sharp restriction or termination of blood supply to any part of the heart. Most often this occurs as a result of atherosclerosis or thrombosis. Each attack poses a serious threat to life. The supply of oxygen to certain parts of the heart is interrupted, and muscle tissue begins to die. In place of the damaged, connective tissue is formed. With the initial symptoms of an attack (intense pain in the middle part of the chest, extending to the arm, both hands or lower jaw that do not go away after taking antispasmodic drugs, pallor and cold sweat, panic fear, weak pulse), the patient should be delivered as soon as possible the hospital.

The essence of this disease is to reduce the flow of blood to the heart muscle. It works intensively and any lack of blood immediately affects its condition. Coronary arteries surrounding the heart muscle are responsible for the nutrition of the heart. Signs of a similar illness can be severe shortness of breath and a heart attack.

In almost 90% of cases, coronary artery disease is the result of damage to the walls of the arteries - atherosclerosis. Previously, this process was associated with the natural aging of the body, but now it is known that even children can suffer from atherosclerosis. At the same time, sclerotic plaques - thickenings form on the inner side of the blood arteries. Sclerotic changes lead to compaction of the walls and narrowing of the lumen of the vessels. They occur mainly in the aorta, as well as in the coronary arteries and blood vessels of the brain. When the heart receives too little blood, pain appears. This in most cases causes severe shortness of breath and pain. Pain of varying degrees of intensity can intensify as a result of both physical effort and stress.

Temporarily, you can get rid of it by taking medications that help expand the coronary arteries, such as nitroglycerin. Surgical treatments for coronary heart disease include: coronary angioplasty and coronary artery bypass grafting. Angioplasty involves the expansion of arteries using a catheter with a miniature balloon. Filling the balloon with air leads to the elimination of sclerotic plaques and the expansion of the coronary vessels. With coronary artery bypass grafting, a shunt (new message) is created between the aorta and the coronary artery. A shunt is usually made from the vein or artery of the patient’s leg.

Vascular damage

Pathological changes

Heart diseases are a heterogeneous group of diseases leading to various lesions of the cardiovascular system.

Conventionally, they can be divided into three large groups according to the location of the lesion.

  1. Diseases affecting the valvular apparatus of the heart. Various acquired and congenital heart defects.
  2. Diseases affecting the blood vessels of the heart, and their consequences. These include coronary heart disease, myocardial infarction, angina pectoris, etc.
  3. Diseases that directly affect the tissue of the membranes of the heart, these include pericarditis, endocarditis, myocarditis.

The causes of these diseases can be very different, ranging from lifestyle and ending with genetic defects. Unites their danger to the life of the patient. All diseases of this group progress without proper treatment and lead to heart disorders that are incompatible with life.

See a doctor

If you decide to check your heart or you have complaints from the heart or the whole body, you need to visit a cardiologist or, in his absence, a general practitioner in a clinic or hospital.

The most common complaint in diseases of the cardiovascular system is cardialgia, as it is scientifically called pain in the heart or region of the heart. If you describe in detail and accurately to the doctor all your complaints and the nature of pain in the region of the heart, in most cases this alone will already make it possible to correctly diagnose.

First of all, you and the doctor need to clarify the causal relationship of the pain attack with:

  • physical or psycho-emotional stress - whether the pain appeared after negotiations with the bosses, training in the gym or working in a personal plot,
  • the volume of the load performed before the onset of pain, whether you have taken too much work on yourself, or whether you have excessively trained.

  • localization (you can even show it with your hands),
  • tell us about the nature and duration of pain - for example, acute pain with breathingdull, crushing, aching heart,
  • tell the doctor the irradiation (where the pain is given) - it can be a hand, shoulder blade, back or head.

It is also important to indicate concomitant sensations (weakness, sweating, nausea, etc.) that you took to stop the attack, was there any aggravation of the severity of pain while taking a constant dose of "heart" drugs.

Often, core patients are concerned about shortness of breath, a feeling of interruption in the work of the heart, paroxysmal loss of consciousness. It is necessary to clarify their relationship with physical activity or sports or mental and emotional stress, nature (paroxysmal or persistent sensations), what time of day they occur more often, what do you do to improve your well-being, what drugs do you use for a long time or during the last couple of months.

Here, not only conventional drugs such as painkillers, but also hormonal ones are especially important. contraceptives, slimming products and more. The doctor will find out whether there are bouts of a sharp deterioration in the condition of a constant intake of drugs, which preceded the aggravation of well-being.

What the doctor should know

Heart Disease: What Women Need to Know / shutterstock.com

Equally often, women may complain of headaches or high blood pressure. In this regard, risk factors are being clarified - do you have any inheritance in heart disease, addiction to salty foods, smoking and etc.

It is important for the doctor that you recall from what age an increase (or decrease) in blood pressure, persistence of an increase in blood pressure under the influence of lowering agents, and working pressure, against which health is satisfactory, have been recorded. If you are pregnant at the same time, you need to determine the exact level of hypertension and the presence of edema.

In addition, it is clarified what are associated with sudden sharp increases in blood pressure, their duration, maximum numbers. It is important to talk about the presence of other sensations (heart, headaches, nausea, vomiting, trembling, fever, excessive urination after the attack, etc.).

In women, the condition of the genital area is purposefully specified (menstrual cycle, gynecological diseases, etc.), whether diseases of the kidneys, endocrine and nervous systems, the state of vision, whether swelling (pastiness) of the legs, pains in the calf muscles, or sleep features were previously diagnosed.

The doctor will first of all evaluate your height and weight, as being overweight is one of the main risk factors for heart disease. If excess weight is detected, the doctor will prescribe a diet for you and recommend physical therapy or gym classes according to a special program. This will allow you to lose weight and tone the heart muscle.

With an increase in blood pressure, blood pressure in the arms and legs, the state of the vessels of the fundus are examined.

Further, if there are problems in blood pressure, the doctor will ask you to monitor your blood pressure for 2-4 weeks at home, you will measure the pressure in the morning, not getting out of bed, and in the evening, after work. This will give the doctor the opportunity to assess the causes of hypertension and prescribe the right therapy. In addition, the doctor will send you for special examinations and tests.


Special place in diagnosis possible heart damage takes electrocardiography in dynamics (you are advised to have the first ECG films for later comparison). An ECG study should be carried out not only in the initial state, but also during stress tests (you will be asked to sit down, walk or talk).

Heart Disease: What Women Need to Know / shutterstock.com

Echocardiography, or ultrasound of the heart, allows you to clarify the condition of the myocardium, aorta and valve apparatus, examine them on a two-dimensional or three-dimensional model. On powerful devices there is also dopplerography - This is an assessment by highlighting the color of blood circulation inside the vessels and heart.

In addition to instrumental methods, clinical and biochemical studies of women with heart disease are widely used. So, with a suspicion or diagnosis of myocardial infarction in dynamics, the level of leukocytes and ESR, the activity of aminotransferases (special enzymes that appear in the blood only when there are problems in the heart) are controlled.

The presence or absence of signs of rheumatism is clarified: it affects the heart, changes the ratio of proteins in blood plasma, the amount of fat in it, a coagulogram (blood coagulation affects the functioning of the heart). In addition, the kidneys and thyroid gland will look at you, as these organs can significantly affect the heart and arterial pressure.

Why is it necessary to be examined?

Many women are afraid or embarrassed to go to the doctor, delaying the disease and leading to complications. This is the wrong policy. Many embryonic heart diseases can be easily treated even without medication - a lifestyle change.

In addition, heart disease is a risk not only of a heart attack, but also of a stroke (cerebral hemorrhage) with the development of paralysis or impaired memory, speech or mental function.

It is also dangerous to increase pressure - it wears out the heart and blood vessels, impairs vision and the functioning of internal organs, leads to headaches and a decrease in the quality of life. And you should be cheerful for your children and grandchildren. You are a woman at any age, and must be healthy!