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Introduction

Cardiovascular diseases, that is disorders affecting the heart and blood vessels, are the main cause of death in Western countries, superior in numerical terms even to tumors. They account for about one in three deaths and, despite these frightening numbers, the perception in people of the danger is still insufficient and how important it is to take action above all in terms of prevention, to prevent

  • fatal outcomes,
  • serious complications,
  • permanent disabilities (for example from stroke).

The main cause behind these diseases is the obstruction or narrowing of the coronary arteries, the blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrition to the heart; it is a subtle disorder, which progresses very slowly over time, but which, despite the absence of symptoms and warnings, can suddenly lead to a heart attack. The same mechanism underlies many cases of strokes and other diseases.

To reduce the risk of serious, sometimes fatal problems, it is important to act on two fundamental aspects:

  • prevention, through a healthy lifestyle,
  • early diagnosis.

To be able to formulate a diagnosis in the early stages, when often significant symptoms have not yet appeared, collaboration with your doctor plays a fundamental role, who can prescribe examinations and in-depth analyzes based on risk factors, family history, …
Heart on a white background with a stethoscope

Symptoms

Heart disease, i.e. diseases affecting the heart, can be acute or chronic, temporary, relatively stable or progressive, asymptomatic or with symptoms that often vary and / or worsen over time.Chronic heart disease can have acute episodes characterized by a sudden worsening of symptoms, and then evolve depending on the case:

  • Symptomsresolving (spontaneously or with treatment),
  • becoming chronic (i.e. becoming permanent)
  • proving to be fatal.

Individuals with early-stage heart disease may report no or few symptoms, mostly vague, such as

  • tiredness,
  • breathlessness linked to physical exertion or not,
  • dizziness,
  • nausea,

but these symptoms do not indicate the specific type of heart disease in progress and can also be found in numerous other situations. From a very general point of view, however, we can identify four types of cardiovascular diseases:

  • coronary heart disease,
  • stroke and TIA,
  • peripheral arterial disease,
  • aortic diseases.