In 2012 alone, approximately 17.5 million lives were lost to cardiovascular diseases, according to a report by the World Health Organization. Worse still, cardiovascular diseases are amongst the top killers in the world today.

Cardiovascular diseases, CVDs, are disorders that affect the heart in any way. The disorders may affect the veins, capillaries, and arteries close to the heart or the heart itself.

Examples of CVDs

  • Congenital heart disease: Abnormal heart structure at birth.
  • Cerebrovascular disease: Ailing of blood vessels that supply the brain with blood.
  • Rheumatic heart disease: Damage to the heart arising from rheumatic fever.
  • Cardiac arrest: Sudden loss of breathing, consciousness and heart function
  • Coronary heart disease: Ailing of blood vessels or the heart muscles.
  • Deep vein thrombosis: Clotting of blood in leg veins that may move up to the heart.
  • Peripheral arterial disease: Disease that affects the vessels that supply the legs and arms with blood.
  • Heart Infections: Infections such as myocarditis, endocarditis or pericarditis may result from infection by pathogens.

Causes and Risk Factors of CVDs

  • Smoking in expectant mothers (may cause congenital heart disease)
  • Atherosclerosis (fat buildup in arterial walls)
  • Obesity
  • Lack of exercise
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Stress and depression
  • Excess alcoholism
  • Hypertension
  • Genetics (inheritance)
  • Parasites, viruses or bacteria (may cause heart infections such as endocaditis, pericarditis or myocarditis).
  • Electrocution may lead to heart attack or cardiac arrest

Symptoms of CVDs

  • Heart attack: Pain in the chest area, back, jaw, elbow, left shoulder or arms. Numbness on one side of the body, dizziness, difficulty in speaking and severe headaches
  • Obstructive pulmonary disease: Sudden loss of breath like a marathoner after a long run, chest discomfort and pain.
  • Rheumatic disease: irregular heartbeat, fainting, loss of breath, chest pain and fatigue
  • Heart failure: Chest discomfort, coughing, sneezing and bloody phlegm
  • Arrhythmia, Heart Attack: Frequent irregular pulse coupled with dizziness, weakness and loss of breathe.

Cardiovascular specialists emphasize on healthy living, which is being keen on the diet, avoiding substance abuse, exercising regularly and going for medical checkups. Finally, they state that fast and correct first-aid may save most CVD victims.