Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. Click here to learn about common heart defects in adults and how you can prevent them.
As you get older, you need to be more wary of health defects that can change your life.
Heart disease and other heart defects in adults make up a massive number of deaths in America every year. They tend to come out of nowhere, with no symptoms and take down even the seemingly healthiest individuals.
It’s an epidemic in this country and something that scientists and doctors are constantly working on a solution for. All we can do, as regular people, is get to know the most common heart defects in adults and how we can best try to prevent them.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle has never been more important. With all the knowledge we now have about the effects certain foods, exercise, legal and illicit drugs, and alcohol have on our system, we should be able to fight these heart problems.
You’ve got to be willing to learn, though. Read this post and get to work on your heart-healthy lifestyle before it’s too late.
Angina occurs when your arteries are narrowed, causing the blood supply going to your heart to become restricted. As a result, you’ll begin to feel pain in your chest, arm, neck, or jaw. If you experience angina while you’re doing something strenuous, it’s because your heart isn’t getting the proper amount of oxygen.
Most people that experience angina can tell when an attack is coming on; this is called stable angina. There’s also unstable angina, which is when the attacks start occurring more frequently and as a result of less strenuous activity.
When you start experiencing frequent angina attacks that last longer than a few minutes, you should admit yourself to a hospital.
An unstable heartbeat is one of the more disconcerting feelings that the human body can produce. An arrhythmia occurs when the heart muscle produces irregular electrical currents, either causing the heart to beat too quickly, too slowly, or erratically.
The different types of arrhythmia can have varying degrees of seriousness. If you experience irregular heartbeats, bradycardia (too slow), or tachycardia (too fast) once in a while, it’s usually not serious.
But, if your heartbeat is too slow for a period of time, you’re not getting enough blood to the heart, which can be very serious. Likewise, if your heart beats too fast for an extended period, it can induce cardiac arrest.
A heart attack occurs when the blood supply to a portion of your heart becomes completely blocked. It often happens as a result of fatty materials breaking off and clogging the coronary artery. This can cause large-scale damage to the part of the heart muscle that the coronary artery was supplying blood to.
If the sufferer gets help right away and the blockage is brief, the blood and oxygen flow can be restored and the crisis averted. However, if the blockage lasts, then it can result in death.
Symptoms of a heart attack would include severe chest tightness that lasts for a few minutes, lightheadedness, nausea, pain in the shoulders and arms, profuse sweating, a rapid heartbeat, and shortness of breath. If you experience any combination of these symptoms, you’ll need urgent care.
Coronary Heart Disease
The biggest cause of heart attacks and unstable angina is coronary heart disease, which is when your coronary arteries become partially blocked. When they’re blocked, they can’t supply the appropriate amount of blood to the heart.
It’s one of the biggest killers of American adults, accounting for an incredible 1/4 of all deaths. In most cases, it can be treated and eradicated with lots of healthy eating, medication, and exercise, however, because the symptoms can creep up on you, it’s a silent killer.
Your arteries are full of valves that open and close to regulate the blood flowing through your heart muscle. When problems with these valves crop up, it’ll cause your heart to have to work a lot harder, which can cause a lot of strain.
Valve disease can result in dizziness or even fainting; in which case, those close to you should learn more about CPR. You could also experience shortness of breath, swelling in the ankles, overwhelming fatigue, and heart palpitations.
It’s often a sign of a much bigger problem, so if you feel these symptoms, make a doctor’s appointment immediately.
High Blood Pressure
Hypertension, aka high blood pressure, isn’t in itself a heart disease, but it too can lead to larger problems. It often doesn’t make itself immediately apparent, until it becomes a serious issue. Get your blood pressure taken regularly so that your GP can monitor it over a period of time.
It’s very common in adults over the age of 75 and in many younger adults as well. Alcohol consumption, lack of exercise, being overweight, and having a poor diet will all contribute to an increase in blood pressure.
If it worsens and goes untreated, high blood pressure can lead to heart attacks, coronary heart disease, or strokes.
How Can We Prevent Heart Defects in Adults?
There are many things that factor into heart defects in adults that are completely out of an individual’s control. Age, gender, ethnicity, and family history all contribute to your likelihood of experiencing one or more of these defects.
For instance, men over 45 and women over 55 are more likely to experience heart disease. If you’ve got family members that have had to deal with heart disease at a younger age, you may too.
Fortunately, there are some things that you can do to mitigate the effects of what you can’t control. Having a healthy lifestyle will help; eat heart-healthy foods and get regular cardiovascular exercise to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol.
Limiting your alcohol consumption and not smoking will also help. Alcohol and cigarettes have a tendency to raise blood pressure temporarily. If you struggle with alcohol abuse and smoke regularly, your resting blood pressure will increase, leading to an increased likelihood of heart disease down the road.
See a Doctor Regularly
Major heart defects in adults are a very scary thing. Being proactive about seeing your doctor on a regular basis to monitor your heart activity is the best way to stop a problem before it starts. Your general doctor will help you with finding the right cardiologist for you. If a doctor can find something early, they can get you on the proper medication, diet, and exercise regimen to prevent serious issues.
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