According to Abbreviationfinder, heart disease is steadily increasing and is one of the most common causes of death in Germany. Whether someone falls ill depends very much on family predisposition and lifestyle.
What are heart diseases?
All diseases of the heart muscle that have an influence on heart activity are summarized under heart diseases. Physicians differentiate between functional and organic heart diseases.
Typical and common heart diseases are:
- Coronary Artery Disease (CHD)
- Heart attack
- heart failure
A functional heart disease causes unpleasant symptoms, but is based on a harmless overreaction of the vegetative nervous system and is harmless in contrast to organic complaints.
The most common form of coronary artery disease (CHD) is arteriosclerosis. The restricted blood flow causes a lack of oxygen in the heart and typical symptoms such as pain in different parts of the body, burning or stabbing pain in the chest area, feelings of tightness or sweating.
Angina pectoris manifests itself as a sudden tightening of the heart with fear of death, often accompanied by shortness of breath and stabbing pains in the heart area that radiate into the left arm.
A heart attack is triggered by a blocked coronary artery, which results in reduced blood flow to the heart and a lack of oxygen. A heart attack is announced by pain behind the breastbone, which radiates into the arm, back, abdomen or jaw. It is not uncommon for a circulatory collapse to occur.
When a heart valve isn’t working properly and isn’t able to pump enough blood into the heart’s chambers, the heart’s ability to pump is impaired. Heart valve problems can be congenital, caused by inflammation, or due to age-related wear and tear. If left untreated, they can be life-threatening.
Heart failure is often caused by another disease, such as high blood pressure or cardiac arrhythmia. Depending on which side of the heart is affected, a distinction is made between right and left heart failure, which leads to congestion of blood in the abdomen, liver or legs.
Cardiac arrhythmias throw the heart out of rhythm. A distinction is made between tachycardia, in which the heart beats too fast and can trigger life-threatening ventricular fibrillation, and bradycardia, in which the heart beats too slowly.
Bacterial infections that are delayed or not healed can promote myocarditis, which, if not recognized, can lead to sudden cardiac death.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
In the worst case, heart disease can lead to the death of the person concerned. Especially without treatment, the symptoms can intensify and significantly restrict the affected person’s everyday life. Most of those affected suffer from permanent tiredness and exhaustion from these diseases.
You can no longer carry out strenuous work and thus no longer actively participate in everyday life, so that the quality of life is significantly reduced. Furthermore, heart disease can lead to a heart attack or sudden cardiac death, thereby significantly limiting and reducing the patient’s life expectancy. Many of those affected suffer from pain or a stabbing pain in the chest and often from a fear of death.
After a heart attack, there may be limitations in everyday life, as those affected often suffer from sensory disorders if nerves or internal organs and the brain are damaged. Heart disease also prevents patients from participating in sports classes or strenuous activities. These diseases can also lead to psychological problems or depression. They can also be genetic and thus transmitted to future generations. As a rule, life expectancy is always reduced by heart disease.
Diagnosis & History
There are various examination methods for diagnosing heart disease:
The simplest is listening to the heart with a stethoscope, during which the doctor may already notice irregularities in the heartbeat.
A resting or stress ECG provides information about irregularities in the heartbeat and shows how the heart reacts at rest and under stress
With the help of myocardial scintigraphy, in which a radioactive contrast agent is injected, a circulatory disorder can be observed at rest and under stress. Angiography using magnetic resonance imaging ( MRI ) or computed tomography ( CT ) can provide more detailed findings .
Heart disease can cause a variety of complications and symptoms. Since the spectrum of heart diseases is relatively large, it is usually not possible to make a universal prediction. In the worst case, this can lead to the death of the patient if these symptoms are not treated. In many cases, this leads to a heart attack.
Furthermore, heart diseases always lead to a reduced resilience of the patient. The affected person appears tired and exhausted and no longer actively participates in social life. Chest pain and difficulty breathing are not uncommon. In the event of a heart attack, healthy tissue can be damaged, leading to paralysis and other sensory disorders that continue to restrict everyday life. Left untreated, a heart attack leads to death.
Many heart diseases can be treated well and their risks can be reduced. However, life expectancy may still be reduced under certain circumstances, since not all damage is reversible and cannot be treated. As a rule, there are no special complications during treatment. However, the affected person is dependent on a healthy lifestyle in order to avoid additional complaints.
When should you go to the doctor?
If symptoms such as shortness of breath, an increased heart rate and pain in the upper abdomen are noticed, heart disease may be the cause. A doctor should be consulted if the symptoms persist over a longer period of time or other symptoms appear. If, for example, you develop pale skin, sweating or panic attacks, this must be clarified immediately by a doctor. People who already suffer from heart disease are particularly susceptible to secondary diseases.
People who lead an unhealthy lifestyle or suffer from chronic diseases of the immune system or blood vessels often develop heart disease and should see a doctor if they experience the symptoms mentioned. Children, the elderly and pregnant women must have complaints in the area of the cardiovascular system clarified quickly. If there are serious complications such as a circulatory collapse or even a heart attack, it is best to call the emergency services immediately. Before the emergency doctor arrives, first aid measures must be taken. The affected person must then be treated in hospital. Depending on the underlying disease, a cardiologist or a specialist in internal medicine should be consulted.
Treatment & Therapy
Treatment methods depend on the cause of the disease. High blood pressure is treated with medication and monitored periodically by a 24-hour measurement. Angina pectoris is usually treated with medication, in more severe cases bypass surgery is performed.
When treating a heart attack, every minute counts. The upper body should be positioned slightly higher until the ambulance arrives. The doctor puts an infusion on site and monitors the heart with an EKG. In the hospital, the cause of the infarction is examined and treatment is initiated.
Within the first few hours, the blockage can still be dissolved with medication. Sometimes a stent is placed to make the artery passable again, sometimes only a bypass operation or the insertion of an artificial heart valve can help. After the hospital stay, a rehabilitation stay of several weeks follows. Milder cardiac arrhythmias are treated with medication, and sometimes a pacemaker is used. Myocarditis is treated with antibiotics to heal the inflammation and prevent secondary damage.
Outlook & Forecast
The prognosis for heart disease depends on the underlying disease. In some cases, despite a diagnosed illness, the patient can achieve a good quality of life with the provision of various measures and lead a fulfilling life with only a few restrictions until the end of his life. Heart disease often leads to a reduction in general life expectancy. The patient must undergo lifelong check-ups and, in most cases, undergo surgery.
The lifestyle must be adapted to the physical possibilities and the requirements of the organism. The probability of sudden cardiac death is generally increased in the case of heart disease. The mortality rate also increases with age. With a healthy lifestyle and the avoidance of various stress factors, existing complaints are often alleviated. With a good self-awareness, the patient is able to react within a short time to peculiarities and irregularities of the heart rhythm and to counteract the symptoms that occur as a result.
If physical or emotional overexertion is avoided and the medical guidelines of the doctors are observed, there are good prospects for living with the disease in many heart diseases. Without treatment, symptoms can increase and the death rate increases. There are currently no adequate natural healing methods that should be used for heart disease.
Prevention does not help with familial predispositions, but in general one can say that a healthy lifestyle and sufficient exercise, if possible in fresh air because of the oxygen supply, can help to avoid heart diseases. Occupational and private stress also play a role in heart disease. It is therefore important to ensure sufficient relaxation and reduce stress. Regular physical activity can help.
Heart diseases can be very diverse and therefore occur in many different degrees of severity. The heart is our most important organ, in other words: If the heart is not working properly or if it suffers from a certain disease, there is an acute danger to life. For this reason, appropriate follow-up care should of course also take place after the diagnosis and treatment have been carried out.
Only those who comply with and follow up on regular check-ups can identify possible complications or aggravations in good time. On the other hand, if you do without it entirely, you are exposing yourself to a very great risk. However, people who suffer from heart disease can also take some aftercare measures themselves.
This includes, for example, going to the doctor immediately if pain or other unusual feelings should arise in the heart area. In such cases, going to the doctor should not be put off because a doctor can identify and eliminate possible complications at an early stage.
Diet also plays a major role in some heart diseases, so it should also be considered in this context. Anyone who completely foregoes aftercare for an existing heart disease is exposing himself to a very great risk. There is acute danger to life if regular visits to the doctor are not observed.
You can do that yourself
Heart diseases are in many cases closely related to the behavior of the patient. For this reason, it is often possible to favor the course of these diseases by adopting a health-oriented lifestyle and following the instructions of the treating physicians. This applies in particular to heart diseases that are associated with calcification of the vessels, high blood pressure (hypertension) or morbid obesity (obesity).
In any case, it is helpful if the patient refrains from possible nicotine consumption and from drinking a lot of alcohol. Smoking in particular is often a decisive factor in the prognosis of heart disease. It is also part of self-help in everyday life to reduce excess weight. This is ideally done by combining a healthy diet with a minimum amount of exercise. This not only benefits the heart and blood vessels, but also the psyche as well as the support and movement system, which is significantly less stressed by the weight reduction. However, it is essential to avoid excessive demands during training.
Great excitement and stress cannot always be avoided. However, people with heart disease in particular benefit from a quieter lifestyle and an adequate amount of sleep. The nervous system can be well stabilized, among other things, by relaxation methods such as progressive muscle relaxation or by Far Eastern forms of movement such as Tai Chi or Yoga.