Modern times have brought along with them a stressful life, and a plethora of lifestyle induced diseases, which are impacting on whole populations adversely. It is also notable that ethnic Indian populations are more prone than many to such lifestyle diseases like diabetics, hypertension etc., which invariably lead to fatal conditions like Coronary Heart Disease (CHD), so much so that the number of deaths due to CHD in Indian origin populations far outstrips the global average for such maladies. We at NRI Achievers chose to share some facts and figures with you in this brand-new section on health & wellness …
Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) is caused by the narrowing or blockage of the coronary arteries, usually caused by the hardening or clogging of arteries, called atherosclerosis in medical terms. Atherosclerosis is the build up of cholesterol and fatty deposits (called plaques) on the inner walls of the arteries. These plaques restrict blood flow to the heart muscle by physically clogging the artery or by causing abnormal artery tone and function. Without adequate blood supply, the heart then becomes starved of oxygen and the vital nutrients it needs to function properly. This usually cause chest pain called angina. If blood supply to a portion of the heart muscle is cut off entirely, or if the energy demands of the heart become much greater than its blood supply, a heart attack (injury to the heart muscle) may occur. CHD is the leading cause of death for both men and women, and accounts for a large number of deaths worldwide every year. Coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, heart attack. Each type of heart problem requires different treatment but may share similar warning signs. It is important to consult a doctor so that a correct diagnosis is achieved and prompt treatment is given.
Symptoms of Coronary Artery Disease
The most common symptom of coronary artery disease is angina, or chest pain. Angina can be described as a discomfort, heaviness, pressure, aching, burning, fullness, squeezing, or painful feeling in your chest. It can be mistaken for indigestion or heartburn. Angina may also be felt in the shoulders, arms, neck, throat, jaw, or back. Other symptoms of coronary artery disease include:
- Shortness of breath, a faster heartbeat
- Palpitations (irregular heart beats, or a “flip-flop” feeling in your chest).
- Weakness or dizziness, Nausea, & Profuse sweating.
Symptoms of a Heart Attack
- Discomfort, pressure, heaviness, or pain in the chest, arm, or below the breastbone.
- Discomfort radiating to the back, jaw, throat, or arm.
- Fullness, indigestion, or choking feeling (may feel like heartburn).
- Sweating, nausea, vomiting, or dizziness, Extreme weakness, anxiety, or shortness of breath.
- Rapid or irregular heartbeats.
During a heart attack, symptoms typically last 30 minutes or longer and are not relieved by rest or oral medications. Initial symptoms may start as a mild discomfort that progresses to significant pain. Some people have a heart attack without having any symptoms, which is known as a “silent” myocardial infarction (MI). It occurs more often in people with diabetes. If you think you are having a heart attack, DO NOT DELAY. Call for emergency help. Immediate treatment of a heart attack is very important to lessen the amount of damage to your heart.
Symptoms of Arrhythmias, or abnormal heart rhythm, include:
- Palpitations (a feeling of skipped heart beats, fluttering or flip-flops in your chest).
- Pounding in your chest, Shortness of breath, Chest discomfort.
- Dizziness or feeling light-headed, Fainting.
- Weakness or fatigue (feeling very tired).
Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation
- Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a type of arrhythmia. Most people with AF experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Heart palpitations (a sudden pounding, fluttering, or racing feeling in the heart).
- Lack of energy, Dizziness (feeling faint or light-headed).
- Chest discomfort (pain, pressure, or discomfort in the chest).
- Shortness of breath (difficulty breathing during normal activities).
Symptoms of Heart Valve Disease
- Shortness of breath and/or difficulty catching your breath. You may notice this most when you are doing your normal daily activities or when you lie down flat in bed.
- Weakness or dizziness, discomfort in your chest. You may feel a pressure or weight in your chest with activity or when going out in cold air.
- Palpitations (this may feel like a rapid heart rhythm, irregular heartbeat, skipped beats, or a flip-flop feeling in your chest).
- If valve disease causes heart failure, symptoms may include:
- Swelling of your ankles or feet. Swelling may also occur in your abdomen, which may cause you to feel bloated.
- Quick weight gain (a weight gain of two or three pounds in one day is possible).
Symptoms of heart valve disease do not always relate to the seriousness of your condition. You may have no symptoms at all and have severe valve disease, requiring prompt treatment. Or, as with mitral valve prolapse, you may have severe symptoms, yet tests may show minor valve disease.
Symptoms of Heart Failure
- Shortness of breath noted during activity (most commonly) or at rest, especially when you lie down flat in bed.
- Cough that brings forth white sputum.
- Rapid weight gain (weight gain of approximately 1 kg in one day is possible).
- Swelling in ankles, legs, and abdomen.
- Dizziness, Fatigue and weakness.
- Rapid or irregular heartbeats.
- Nausea, palpitations, and chest pain.
Like valve disease, heart failure symptoms may not be related to how weak your heart is. You may have many symptoms, but your heart function may be only mildly weakened. Or you may have a severely damaged heart, with few or no symptoms.
Symptoms of Congenital Heart Defects
Congenital heart defects may be diagnosed before birth, right after birth, during childhood, or only later in adulthood. It is possible to have a defect and no symptoms at all. Sometimes it can be diagnosed because of a heart murmur on physical exam or an abnormal EKG or chest X-ray in someone with no symptoms. In adults, if symptoms of congenital heart disease are present, they may include:
- Shortness of breath.
- Limited ability to exercise.
- Symptoms of heart failure or valve disease.
Symptoms of congenital heart defects in infants and children may include:
- Cyanosis (a bluish tint to the skin, fingernails, and lips).
- Fast breathing and poor feeding.
- Poor weight gain.
- Recurrent lung infections.
- Inability to exercise.
Symptoms of Heart Muscle Disease
Many people with heart muscle disease, or cardiomyopathy, have no symptoms at all or only exhibit minor symptoms and live a normal life. Other people develop symptoms, which progress and worsen as heart function worsens. Symptoms of cardiomyopathy may occur at any age and may include:
- Chest pain or pressure (occurs usually with exercise or physical activity, but can also occur with rest or after meals).
- Heart failure symptoms.
- Swelling of the lower extremities.
- Fatigue, Fainting.
- Palpitations (fluttering in the chest due to abnormal heart rhythms).
Symptoms of Pericarditis
- Chest pain. This pain is different from angina (chest pain caused by coronary artery disease). It may be sharp and located in the center of the chest. The pain may radiate to the neck and occasionally, the arms and back. It is made worse when lying down, taking a deep breath in, coughing, or swallowing and relieved by sitting forward.
- Low-grade fever.
- Increased heart rate.
Dietary tips for people with heart failure:
- Healthy eating is necessary to maintain your heart health. A registered dietician can provide in-depth personal nutrition advice, and tailor these general guidelines to meet your needs and help you implement a personal action plan. Here are some basic tips that will help you get started eating healthily.
- Limit salt and sugar in your diet. Decreasing the total amount of salt you consume to no more than two grams per day is one of the most important ways to manage heart failure. Learn to read food labels. Use the label information on food packages to help you to make the best low salt and low sugar selections.
- Healthy eating. It is recommended to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, starchy foods such as bread, rice, potatoes and wholegrain pasta, some milk and dairy products, some meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein.
- Fats. Cut down on saturated fats and replace them mono and polyunsaturated fats.
- Maintain a healthy body weight. This includes losing weight if you are overweight and exercise regularly to achieve or maintain your ideal body weight.
- Reduce alcohol consumption. Because alcohol can affect your heart rate and worsen your heart failure, keep within the recommended guidelines. Alcohol may also interact with the medications you are taking.
- Quit smoking. Giving up smoking is likely to be the single biggest way to cut the risk of developing heart disease and heart failure.
- Healthy blood pressure. If your blood pressure is too high, your heart has to work harder to pump blood around the body.