What is cardiovascular disease?
Cardiovascular disease includes diseases of the heart and blood vessels. Atherosclerosis is an underlying cause of cardiovascular disease and develops over time. It occurs when arteries that supply the heart or brain with blood slowly develop deposits of cells, fat and cholesterol. This buildup is called plaque. If a plaque bursts or ruptures, a blood clot is formed and you could have a heart attack or stroke.
Common Cardiovascular Diseases
High Blood Pressure, also called hypertension, means the pressure in your arteries is consistently above the normal range. Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls. The great danger is that you usually can’t tell you have high blood pressure! There are no signs and no one knows exactly what causes it. High blood pressure can lead to hardened arteries, heart failure, stroke or heart attack.
Heart Attack occur when the blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked, often by a blood clot. If this clot cuts off the blood flow completely, the part of the heart muscle supplied by that artery begins to die.
Call 9-1-1 to get help fast if you experience:
- Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
- Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
- Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness
Heart Failure means that your heart isn’t pumping blood as well as it should. It keeps working, but the body doesn’t get all the blood and oxygen it needs. See a doctor if you notice symptoms such as:
- Swelling in feet, ankles and/or legs, called “edema”
- Fatigue that can be due to fluid buildup in lungs, called “pulmonary congestion”
Stroke and TIA (“mini” stroke) happen when a blood vessel that supplies oxygen to a part of the brain gets blocked. Then that part of the brain can’t work and neither can the part of the body it controls. A stroke can also occur when a blood vessel supplying part of the brain ruptures.Call 9-1-1 to get help fast if you experience:
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden, severe headache with no known cause