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:
- 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
- breathlessness linked to physical exertion or not,
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,
Coronary heart disease
This condition occurs when oxygenated blood can no longer reach the heart effectively, causing a number of possible complications:
- angina, characterized by intense pain in the chest and sometimes also in the arm; it generally has a short duration, but if neglected it can worsen over time to evolve towards subsequent conditions.
- heart attack, which occurs in the event of a sudden blockage of blood flow; is characterized by the following symptoms:
- chest pain, not necessarily severe, which sometimes runs up to the arm (often left),
- sudden sweating,
- shortness of breath,
- nausea and / or vomiting,
- coughing or wheezing,
- growing sense of anxiety.
- heart failure, in which the heart is no longer able to adequately pump blood around the body; it manifests itself with shortness of breath after small efforts such as climbing stairs, persistent fatigue, swelling in the lower limbs.
Stroke occurs when the blood supply, rich in oxygen and energy, to the brain is interrupted; when it occurs temporarily it is referred to as TIA (transient ischemic attack).
Typically, the following symptoms appear
Loss of control of the musculature of half of the face (inability to smile, drooping eyelid, …),inability to use one arm,speech difficulties.
Peripheral arterial disease
It occurs when there is an impediment in the flow of blood to an arm or, more frequently, to a leg.This can be due to:
- dull pain or cramps in the legs, which worsen during movement,
- numbness or weakness in the legs,
- persistent ulcers (open sores) on the feet and legs.
The aorta is the largest blood vessel in the body, capable of carrying blood from the heart to the rest of the body; one of the main ailments and dangers is the aneurysm, which is a weakening of the vessel walls.
- It generally does not cause any symptoms.
The main modifiable risk factors related to the development of heart disease are:
- high pressure,
- exposure to smoke,
- high cholesterol,
- high blood sugar (which causes the development of type 2 diabetes),
- sedentary lifestyle,
- overweight and obesity (BMI over 25),
- a diet too rich in saturated fats and sugars,
- alcohol consumption and abuse.