After a year as strange and unexpected as 2020, giving consideration to your heart’s health this year could be exactly what we all need. Since February is National Heart Month, we would like to take the time to shine a spotlight on some of the most common and fatal heart diseases.
Heart diseases, also known as cardiovascular diseases, deal with the heart and the blood vessels (vascular diseases deal only with the blood vessels) and are one of the leading causes of death in America. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) one person dies every 37 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease and about 647,000 Americans die from heart disease each year – that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.
Types of Heart Disease
There are many types of heart disease, but most can be divided into two groups: Cardiovascular Diseases (diseases directly involving the heart) and Vascular Diseases (diseases involving the blood vessels).
- Cardiomyopathy – diseases of cardiac muscle
- Hypertensive Heart Disease – diseases of the heart secondary to high blood pressure or hypertension
- Heart Failure is a clinical and often chronic syndrome caused by the inability of the heart to supply sufficient blood to the tissues to meet their metabolic requirements. Note that this is a different condition than a Heart Attack – blood flow to the heart is blocked, often by a blood clot or a buildup of plaque in the arteries – or Cardiac Arrest – an electrical problem triggered by a disruption of the heart’s rhythm where the heart stops beating and needs to be restarted.
- Pulmonary Heart Disease – a failure at the right side of the heart with respiratory system involvement
- Cardiac Dysrhythmias – abnormalities of heart rhythm
- Congenital Heart Disease – heart structure malformations existing at birth
- Rheumatic Heart Disease – heart muscles and valves damage due to rheumatic fever caused by streptococcal infection
- Coronary Artery Disease – the reduction of blood flow to the heart muscle due to build-up of plaque in the arteries of the heart
- Peripheral Arterial Disease – disease of blood vessels that supply blood to the arms and legs
- Cerebrovascular Disease – disease of blood vessels that supply blood to the brain (includes stroke)
- Renal Artery Stenosis – the narrowing of one of the renal arteries
- Aortic Aneurysm – enlargement of the aorta to greater than 1.5 times normal size
Some heart diseases and conditions can’t be prevented – such as heart defects – but the risk of developing or exacerbating other heart issues can be greatly reduced by adopting healthier lifestyle practices. Some of those include but are not limited to:
- Quit or greatly reduce tobacco and alcohol consumption
- Commit to a low-sodium, low-fat diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables
- Exercise at least 30 minutes most days of the week
- Manage other conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes
Covalent Health and all its subsidiary EMS providers across the nation are trained and certified to identify and treat all types of heart conditions. We are proud to know that our EMTs and paramedics are equipped to handle unexpected cardiac situations that their patients go through – sometimes even being responsible for saving their patient’s life.