What Causes Coronary Heart Disease?
Coronary heart disease is often caused by the accumulation of plaque, a waxy substance that lines the coronary arteries. Depending on the amount of plaque present, it can either restrict or block the flow of blood through those arteries.
Sometimes coronary heart disease is caused by injuries or disease of the arteries of the heart, which affect their ability to work optimally.
Examples of heart disease include
- Blood vessel diseases such as coronary artery disease
- Heart valve disease
- Congenital heart defects
- Arrhythmias (problems with the heart rhythm)
- Heart infection
- Disease of the heart muscle
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Heart Disease?
Even patients who have the same type of coronary heart disease may present with different symptoms. Unfortunately in many cases, an episode such as a heart attack, cardiac arrest or chest pain is the first indication that a person has heart disease.
A heart attack occurs when your heart muscle can’t receive oxygen. It is a medical emergency and requires urgent care. In the absence of oxygen, your heart muscle starts to die, which can cause permanent damage.
What are the signs of an impending heart attack?
Patients typically report feeling
- Chest pain (angina), which feels like pressure or tightness in the chest that may also be felt in the arms, jaw and neck
- Heartburn or indigestion
- Feeling anxious, faint, dizzy or lightheaded
- Sweating or clammy skin
- Grey colour on your face
- Nausea or vomiting
- Pressure or pain in your back
- Feeling generally unwell
- Tightness or discomfort in your arms
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Arrhythmia?
It’s possible for the heart to beat too fast, too slow or too irregularly. You may experience
- A slow heartbeat
- Flutters in the chest
- A racing heartbeat
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Shortness of breath
- Pain or discomfort in your chest
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Heart Disease Caused By Heart Defects?
- Skin that is blue or pale grey
- In infants, slower feeding and low weight gain
- Oedema under the eyes, in the abdomen and legs
What Are The Signs Of Heart Disease Caused By A Diseased Heart Muscle?
- Swelling in the feet, legs and ankles
- Irregular heartbeat
- Breathlessness or shortness of breath
- Dizziness and lightheadedness
The Signs And Symptoms Of Heart Disease Caused By Heart Infection May Include
- Shortness of breath
- Changes in the rhythm of your heartbeat
- Dry cough
- A rash or spots on the skin
What Are The Risk Factors For Heart Disease?
Smoking increases your chances of heart disease by three times as it damages your blood vessels. It’s never too late to quit and prevent further damage to your heart.
Having high blood pressure
Hypertension is so common that it affects one in three Australians. Losing weight, getting more active and taking your medication is important.
People who have diabetes are four times more likely to experience a stroke or heart attack. Improving your lifestyle to lose weight, stay active and manage your condition with medication makes a major difference to your heart health.
Weight loss offers a number of health benefits, and heart health is a major one. It’s significant to note that four out of five Australians are not active enough. In addition to managing your options and calorie intake, exercise boosts brainpower and can help facilitate weight loss.
Having high cholesterol
High cholesterol is bad for your heart health because it contributes to the accumulation of plaque in your arteries. Revise your diet to include more whole foods, vegetables and low-fat meat and dairy products. Increase your fibre intake too as this can help with cholesterol management.
How Can Your Heart Health Be Monitored?
Your general practitioner will use a range of tests to look at the health of your heart and to assess if you have had a heart attack. This will include blood tests, exercise stress tests, chest x rays.
An electrocardiogram or ECG may be done, in order to record the electric signals being transmitted through your heart. During an electrocardiogram, electrical leads will be placed on your arms, legs and chest. By doing the electrocardiogram, your general practitioner will be able to determine heart problems such as an enlarged heart, a heart attack, or abnormalities in the rhythm of the heart that can lead to heart failure.
Angiography may be done to see if your arteries have been blocked or narrowed by coronary heart disease. During this procedure fluid is inserted into your blood vessel, to see if it can be passed through.
To find out more about the signs and symptoms of heart disease or to book an electrocardiogram, please get in touch with us: (02) 9884 9300.