You can find warnings and reminders about heart health almost everywhere. They’re on the front of cereal boxes and in commercials. You might not think about the link between your heart health, your diet and your fitness routine. Your heart is also at risk from other factors.
Take control of your health by learning about eight of the most common heart conditions. Whether heart problems run in your family or not, you’ll get help and recover faster if you know which symptoms to look out for.
People swoon when their hearts skip a beat as they fall in love, but an irregular heartbeat any other time could indicate an arrhythmia. Arrhythmias occur when your heart beats in an irregular pattern, like if it suddenly speeds up or slows down.
Your doctor can properly diagnose this issue with a few tests. They might recommend a prescription, a pacemaker or even surgery to resolve the issue.
2. Coronary Artery Disease
When you think of traditional heart conditions, you likely picture coronary artery disease. This condition occurs when plaque builds up in your arteries and prevents blood from circulating normally. The cholesterol deposits will continue to build over time, resulting in symptoms such as:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain or tightness
If you eat a healthy diet low in cholesterol, lower your stress and start an engaging exercise routine, you’ll reduce your odds of developing this issue.
3. Aortic Aneurysms
Your aorta is the artery that circulates blood from your heart to all parts of your body. Plaque buildup, smoking and high blood pressure issues make it more likely that you’ll develop weak arterial walls. As these walls weaken, blood vessels bulge into balloon-like shapes and might burst. If they rupture, you’ll experience an aortic aneurysm and need emergency care.
Your doctor can detect these aneurysms with an X-ray or ultrasound. Speak with them about your concerns if you have any shortness of breath or consistent pain with no known cause.
4. Valvular Heart Disease
When any of your four heart valves become damaged or diseased, you have valvular heart disease. It occurs because of multiple factors, including:
- Damage from prior heart conditions
- Heart disease present at birth
There are many treatment options for this disease, depending on the severity and what caused it. Your doctor may recommend a simple treatment plan or suggest that you see a heart specialist for further options.
The pericardium is a sac that surrounds your heart, protecting it so it stays in place and works properly. The sac uses two thin layers of tissue with fluid between them to provide a rigid outer shell that keeps your heart in place. If this tissue becomes inflamed or rubs against the heart, you might have pericarditis.
Bacteria, viruses and lifestyle changes are just a few of the causes of this diagnosis. Researchers have also found that the human immunodeficiency virus involves the pericardium walls, leading to pericarditis and other illnesses after receiving treatment. Consult your doctor if you believe you’re at risk or exhibit symptoms that indicate an issue with your heart.
6. Heart Defects at Birth
Heart defects that appear at birth are some of the most common heart conditions. They’re also known as congenital heart defects. Doctors can spot eight congenital variations and arrive at solutions after delivery.
Ventricular septal defects are holes in the heart’s main wall and result in few to zero complications because they normally close after a few days in the hospital. Other types of congenital problems can carry into adulthood and cause issues like irregular heart rhythms, disease and strokes. Tests will identify any of these conditions if you were born with any heart defects.
7. Heart Attack
Heart attacks are one of the leading health problems in the U.S. According to the American Heart Association, Americans have a myocardial infarction (MI) every 40 seconds. MIs are also colloquially known as heart attacks.
Lifestyle changes like exercise and decreased stress reduce your odds of having a heart attack, but your diet is especially important. Learning how to make low-fat foods or starting a healthy meal subscription service will jumpstart your dietary changes so your heart benefits from food low in saturated fats and cholesterol.
8. Congestive Heart Failure
Heart failure doesn’t mean your heart stops beating. It means that it works less efficiently than normal, so there are a variety of causes that lead to this diagnosis. If allowed to get worse, the lack of oxygen and nutrients flowing in your bloodstream will weaken your kidneys, lungs and other organs until they break down.
When you go to your doctor, ask them to listen for a heart murmur or irregular beats. They can also use an echocardiography to understand the severity and advise the best course of treatment.
Discuss Your Concerns
The most common heart conditions affect a wide range of people, so discuss any concerns with your doctor. They’ll perform exams and run tests if they detect any abnormalities. With the right treatment and routine alterations, you can resolve your diagnosis and manage a healthier lifestyle.