What are Cardiovascular Diseases?
The cardiovascular system (or the circulatory system) is a system that circulates blood throughout the body. It facilitates the movement of oxygenated blood from the heart and lungs to the rest of the body through arteries and transports deoxygenated blood back to heart and lungs through veins. Cardiovascular disease (more commonly known as heart disease) is a class or type of illness that involves blood vessels such as the veins, arteries and capillaries, heart or all. The diseases that affect the cardiovascular system of the body are
- cardiac disease
- Vascular diseases of the brain and kidney
- Pperipheral arterial disease.
A number of diseases affect the heart and the blood vessels, they are as follows:
- Congenital Heart Disease
- Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)
- Heart Attack
- Heart Failure
- Pulmonary Stenosis
- Renal Artery Disease
- Blood clots
Plaque may build up around arteries. Over a period of time, the plaque may either harden or rupture. If it hardens, it narrows down the coronary arteries, while if it ruptures, blood cell fragments (or platelets) stick to the area of injury, leading to the formation of blood clots when they clump together. The above hardening or rupture of plaque leads to angina and heart attacks, respectively. If the blood clot is detached it may go through the circulatory system and lodge in vital organs causing embolism, which carries a high mortality.
Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease
Anything that increases the chances of getting a particular disease is known as a risk factor (or causes) for that disease. Below is the list of risk factors that might lead to cardiovascular diseases
- Smoking: results in narrowing of the blood vessels. Second-hand or passive smoking is also a risk.
- Lack of sleep: those who sleep for less than 7-8 hours a day have a higher risk of getting cardiovascular diseases.
- High blood pressure or hypertension: is one of the biggest risk factors of cardiovascular disease. Poorly controlled hypertension may lead to damaging of artery walls, increasing chances of blood clots. Uncontrolled hypertension may also increase the risk of strokes, heart attacks, damage to kidneys and eyes
- High blood cholesterol (Hyperlipidemia): high level of cholesterol leads to narrowing down of blood vessels
- Unhealthy eating habits
- Physical inactivity
- Excessive consumption of alcohol
- Air pollution
- Low estrogens levels (before or after menopause) may play a role in causing coronary microvascular diseases