Cardiovascular Disease FAQs

What is cardiovascular disease?

The cardiovascular system, which is responsible for supplying blood through the body, is made up of the heart, arteries, veins, and capillaries. Cardiovascular disease is an umbrella term that encompasses various heart conditions and diseases related to the blood vessels.

The term “cardiovascular disease” is often used interchangeably with “heart disease.” The former term includes heart diseases, such as coronary artery disease, arrhythmias (problems with the rhythm of the heart) and congenital heart defects, while also including narrowed or blocked blood vessels, a condition that can lead to chest pain, heart attacks, and stroke.

Are there any symptoms of heart disease?

Yes, there are distinct symptoms, and one needs to take these seriously. Some of the most common symptoms are:

  • Chest pain
  • Tightness or pressure in the chest
  • Any discomfort in the chest
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue

Here are some symptoms of specific conditions:

  • Numbness or coldness in your legs or arms indicate restricted flow of blood, pointing towards narrowed blood vessels
  • Fluttering in your chest, racing or slow heartbeat and lightheadedness are indicative of heart arrhythmias
  • If your little one has pale blue or gray skin, is experiencing shortness of breath during feedings or is not gaining weight, it’s time for the doctor to check for congenital heart defects.
  • Breathlessness even while resting, swelling of the ankles and feet, fatigue, irregular heartbeat and dizziness are symptoms of weak heart muscles or dilated cardiomyopathy
  • Fever, shortness of breath, fatigue, and swelling in the legs are indicative of heart infections

Is heart disease hereditary?

Genetic factors play some role in heart disease, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Apart from genes, family members also share lifestyles and environments, which is a major influence on one’s health and can increase the risk of heart disease.

Not all heart conditions are influenced equally by genetics. The heart disorders more likely to be passed down generations include arrhythmias, cardiomyopathy, congenital heart disease, and high blood cholesterol.

Can I reduce the risk of heart disease?

Certain factors increase the risk of heart disease but are beyond one’s control, like age, gender, and ethnicity. However, there are several things one can do to reduce the risk. These include:

  • Exercising for about half an hour at least four to five times a week
  • Eating a healthy diet – A diet rich in fruits, green vegetables, and whole grains goes a long way in protecting your heart.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight – Excess weight around your middle increases the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease.
  • Eating Fish – Fish have omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower blood pressure, reduce blood clotting, and reduce the risk of stroke and heart failure, according to the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.
  • Avoid sugar, saturated fat and trans fat.
  • Getting enough quality sleep.
  • Quitting smoking.
  • Going for regular health screenings.