The cardiovascular system, also called the circulatory system, moves blood throughout the human body. It is composed of the heart, arteries, veins, and capillaries.Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a general term for conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels.
It’s usually associated with a buildup of fatty deposits inside the arteries and an increased risk of blood clots. It can also be associated with damage to arteries in organs such as the brain, heart, kidneys and eyes.
Types of Cardiovascular Diseases
- Angina – considered as both a cardiac and vascular disease.
- Arrhythmia – problems with the heartbeat, irregular heartbeat, or heart rhythm.
- Congenital heart disease – problem with heart function or structure present at birth.
- Coronary artery disease (CAD) – problem with the arteries that feed the heart muscle are diseased.
- Dilated cardiomyopathy.
- Heart attack.
- Heart failure.
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
- Mitral regurgitation.
- Mitral valve prolapse.
- Pulmonary stenosis.
- Rheumatic Heart Disease.
- Rhythm disorders such as atrial fibrillation.
Vascular Diseases (Diseases that affect the blood vessels – arteries, veins, or capillaries) include:
- Peripheral artery (arterial) disease.
- Renal artery disease.
- Raynaud’s disease (Raynaud’s phenomenon).
- Buerger’s disease.
- Peripheral venous disease.
- Stroke – known as a type of cerebrovascular disease.
- Venous blood clots.
- Blood clotting disorders.
A healthy lifestyle can lower your risk of CVD. If you already have CVD, staying as healthy as possible can reduce the chances of it getting worse.
Ways you can reduce your CVD risk are outlined below.
- Stop smoking
- Have a balanced diet
A Balanced Diet Includes:
- Low levels of saturated fat (found in foods such as fatty cuts of meat, lard, cream, cakes and biscuits) – try to include healthier sources of fat, such as oily fish, nuts and seeds and olive oil
- Low levels of salt
- Low levels of sugar
- Plenty of fibre and wholegrain foods
- Plenty of fruit and vegetables
- Exercise regularly
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Cut down on alcohol
Tests & Procedures
- CT Coronary Angiogram – A computerized tomography (CT) coronary angiogram is an imaging test that looks at the arteries that supply your heart with blood. Unlike traditional coronary angiograms, CT angiograms don’t use a catheter threaded through your blood vessels to your heart.
- Coronary Angiogram – An angiogram is an X-ray image of blood vessels after they are filled with a contrast material. An angiogram of the heart, a coronary angiogram, is the “gold standard” for the evaluation of coronary artery disease (CAD). A coronary angiogram can be used to identify the exact location and severity of CAD. Angiographic images accurately reveal the extent and severity of all coronary artery blockages. For patients with severe angina or heart attack (myocardial infarction), or those who have markedly abnormal noninvasive tests for CAD (such as stress tests), the angiogram also helps the doctor select the optimal treatment.
- Coronary Angioplasty – Coronary angioplasty and stenting, also called percutaneous coronary intervention, is a procedure used to open clogged heart arteries. Angioplasty involves temporarily inserting and inflating a tiny balloon where your artery is clogged to help widen the artery.
- Carotid Angioplasty and Stenting – Carotid angioplasty and stenting is a procedure that opens clogged arteries to prevent or treat a stroke. The carotid arteries are located on each side of your neck and are the main arteries supplying blood to your brain. The procedure involves temporarily inserting and inflating a tiny balloon where your carotid artery is clogged to widen the artery
- Cardiac Ablation – Cardiac ablation is a procedure that can correct heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias). Ablation usually uses long, flexible tubes (catheters) that are inserted through a vein in your groin and threaded to your heart to correct structural problems in your heart that cause an arrhythmia.
- Cardiac Catheterization – Cardiac catheterization is a procedure used to diagnose and treat cardiovascular conditions. During cardiac catheterization, a long thin tube called a catheter is inserted in an artery or vein in your groin, neck or arm and threaded through your blood vessels to your heart. Using this catheter, doctors can then do diagnostic tests as part of a cardiac catheterization. Some heart disease treatments, such as coronary angioplasty, also are done using cardiac catheterization.
- Cardioversion – Cardioversion is a medical procedure done to restore a normal heart rhythm for people who have certain types of abnormal heartbeats (arrhythmias).
- Echocardiogram – An echocardiogram is key in determining the health of the heart muscle, especially after a heart attack. It is a test that uses sound waves to create pictures of the heart. An echocardiogram is a painless procedure & does not expose you to radiation. This test allows your doctor to monitor how your heart and its valves are functioning. The images can help them spot:
- blood clots in the heart
- fluid in the sac around the heart
- problems with the aorta, which is the main artery connected to the heart
- Electrocardiogram (ECG/ EKG) – A simple, painless test that detects and records your heart’s electrical activity. An EKG can show how fast your heart is beating, whether the rhythm of your heartbeats is steady or irregular, and the strength and timing of the electrical impulses passing through each part of your heart. You may have an EKG as part of a routine exam to screen for heart disease. This test also is used to detect and study heart problems such as heart attacks, arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat, and heart failure. Results from this test also may suggest other heart disorders.
- Pacemaker – A pacemaker is a small device, about the size of a half dollar piece, that is placed under the skin near your heart to help control your heartbeat. A pacemaker is implanted as part of what’s often referred to as “cardiac resynchronization therapy.”
- Stress Test – A test primarily used to help your doctor determine if your heart receives enough oxygen and proper blood flow when it needs it most. A stress test can determine if you have heart disease. You’ll be asked to walk on a treadmill or pedal a stationary bike. It’ll get more difficult as you go. Your electrocardiogram, heart rate, and blood pressure will be tracked throughout.
- Tilt Table Test – The test measures how your blood pressure and heart rate respond to the force of gravity. It is a simple, inexpensive, and informative test that can help identify the causes of fainting.It may be done when heart disease is not suspected of being responsible for an attack of fainting (syncope) or near-syncope.
- Ventricular Assist Devices – A ventricular assist device (VAD) is a mechanical pump that supports heart function and blood flow in people who have weakened hearts. These devices can support the function of the left, right, or both heart ventricles. Ventricles are the lower chambers of your heart. The VAD includes tubes to carry blood out of your heart and to your blood vessels, a power source, and a control unit to monitor device function. The device may be used to support your heart until it recovers, to support your heart while you are waiting for a heart transplant, or to help your heart work better if you are not eligible for a heart transplant.
- Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators (ICDs) – An implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) — a pager-sized device implanted into your chest — may reduce your risk of dying if the lower chambers of your heart (ventricles) go into a dangerous rhythm and stop beating effectively (cardiac arrest). You may need an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator if you have a dangerously fast heartbeat (ventricular tachycardia) or a chaotic heartbeat that does not allow your heart to supply enough blood to the rest of your body (ventricular fibrillation).
- Holter Monitor – A Holter monitor is a small, wearable device that keeps track of your heart rhythm. Your doctor may want you to wear a Holter monitor for one to two days. During that time, the device records all of your heartbeats.
- Heart Scan – A non-invasive diagnostic imaging tool, to screen the patient’s heart. The EBT scanner is an extremely fast, ultra low radiation diagnostic imaging tool that can take cardiac and other images between heartbeats.
- Cholesterol Test – The test for total cholesterol is used alone or as part of a lipid profile to help predict an individual’s risk of developing heart disease and to help make decisions about what treatment may be needed if there is borderline or high risk Because high blood cholesterol has been associated with hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), heart disease, and a raised risk of death from heart attacks, cholesterol testing is considered a routine part of preventive healthcare.