Cardiovascular disease (CVD)

15:55 EDT 24th August 2019 | BioPortfolio

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) includes all the diseases of the heart and circulation including coronary heart disease (angina and heart attack), heart failure, congenital heart disease and stroke. It is also known as heart and circulatory disease.

Coronary heart disease (angina and heart attack) and stroke may be caused by the same problem – atherosclerosis.  This is when your arteries become narrowed by a gradual build-up of fatty material (called atheroma) within their walls.


  • Over time arteries may become so narrow that they cannot deliver enough oxygen-rich blood to your heart. This can cause angina – a pain or discomfort in your chest.
  • If a piece of the atheroma in your arteries breaks away it may cause a blood clot to form.  If the blood clot blocks your coronary artery and cuts off the supply of oxygen-rich blood to your heart muscle, your heart muscle may become permanently damaged. This is known as a heart attack.
  • When a blood clot blocks an artery that carries blood to your brain, it can cut off the blood supply to part of your brain. This is called a stroke.

Preventing CVD - heart failure, heart attack, stroke, transient ischaemic attack and peripheral arterial disease

Controlling the build-up of fatty deposits - atheroma - within the inside lining of arteries by a combination of:

  • Lifestyle factors - not smoking, choosing healthy foods, a low salt intake, regular physical activity, keeping your weight and waist size down, and drinking alcohol in moderation.
  • Treatable or partly treatable risk factors - Hypertension (high blood pressure), High cholesterol blood level, High triglyceride (fat) blood level, Diabetes, Kidney diseases causing diminished kidney function.

Symptoms of heart attack

Signs of a heart attack include:

  • chest pain: usually located in the centre of your chest and can feel like a sensation of pressure, tightness or squeezing
  • pain in other parts of the body: it can feel as if the pain is travelling from your chest to your arms (usually the left arm is affected, but it can affect both arms), jaw, neck, back and abdomen
  • shortness of breath
  • feeling sick
  • being sick
  • an overwhelming sense of anxiety (similar to having a panic attack)
  • feeling light headed
  • coughing
  • wheezing

The level of pain can vary significantly from person to person. For many the pain is severe and it has been described as feeling like ‘an elephant sitting on my chest’. For others, pain can be minor and similar to that experienced during indigestion.

Signs of a stroke

The most common symptom of a stroke is sudden weakness of the face, arm, or leg, most often on one side of the body. Other symptoms include sudden onset of:

  • numbness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body;
  • confusion, difficulty speaking or understanding speech;
  • difficulty seeing with one or both eyes;
  • difficulty walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination;
  • severe headache with no known cause; and
  • fainting or unconsciousness.

People experiencing these symptoms should seek medical care immediately.

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