The cardiovascular system is one of the most critical for the survival of the human body. This system consists of various systems and body parts.
The heart is one of the most important organs that form part of the cardiovascular system. The system also consists of blood and, of course, blood vessels.
It is responsible for pumping blood through the blood vessels1. Arteries and blood vessels then carry blood to all areas of the body. The blood contains both oxygen and nutrients, which tissue and cells in the body can then use.
The blood also carries hormones throughout the body and helps with the elimination of certain metabolic waste materials. Several conditions can affect the cardiovascular system.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), heart disease affects more than 1 in 3 men in the United States.
Heart disease, in particular, causes someone to die every 37 seconds2. This data only accounts for patients in the United States. About 25% of all deaths are linked to heart disease. The US healthcare system also suffers $129 billion annually due to the high prevalence of heart disease among the local population.
What Is Heart Disease?
Heart disease is a term used to refer to various conditions that affect cardiovascular disease. In some cases, these conditions are also referred to as cardiovascular disease. When called heart disease, however, the heart itself will be affected by a disease.
There are quite a few different heart diseases and conditions that a person can suffer from. People need to learn more about different diseases. Recognizing signs of each is also important.
Many heart diseases can be effectively treated with the right medication. Early intervention is critical to help reduce the risk of serious complications.
A few conditions that are classified as heart disease include3:
- Coronary artery disease– narrowing or blockage of the coronary arteries, usually caused by atherosclerosis.
- Heart arrhythmias– Heart rhythm problems that occur when the electrical impulses that coordinate your heartbeats don’t work properly.
- Congenital heart defects– problem with the structure of the heart from birth.
- Atherosclerosis– The build-up of fats, cholesterol, and other substances in and on the artery walls.
- Cardiomyopathy– is a disease of the heart muscle that makes it harder for your heart to pump blood.
- Heart infections– an infection in the inner lining of your heart chambers and heart valves.
- Valvular heart disease– damage to or a defect in the heart valve.
These are only a few possible heart conditions that a person may be diagnosed with. Each comes with a series of symptoms that people should look out for. In some cases, symptoms may be similar to different types of heart disease.
It is also important to note that some types of heart disease tend to be more severe than others. Several complications can develop when a patient has heart disease, including stroke, peripheral artery disease, and sudden cardiac arrest, and heart failure.
The risk of suffering from complications associated with heart disease is significantly increased when the diagnosis and treatment are not implemented during an early stage.
What Causes Heart Disease?
Heart disease has several possible causes. Due to the high prevalence of heart disease, people are generally advised to acknowledge the factors that contribute to heart disease.
This helps a person determine how likely they may be in terms of suffering from heart disease. It also ensures a person better understand what type of heart disease they could develop.
When a person suffers from heart disease, it generally means some part of their cardiovascular system was damaged.
In some cases, only one or two factors are affected. This could possibly only lead to mild heart disease. When more parts of the cardiovascular system are damaged, it may lead to a more severe type of heart disease.
Some common areas of the cardiovascular system that may be damaged, essentially leading to the development of heart disease, include:
- Damage that directly affects the heart
- Damage to certain blood vessels – especially those classified at coronary arteries
- When damage to blood vessels causes poor circulation – affecting the supply of oxygen and nutrients to organs
There are cases where a person is born with some heart-related issues. In such a case, the condition is referred to as congenital heart defects. These heart diseases are present in the child from birth and will likely require treatment and management techniques during their entire lifespan.
Who Is At Risk Of Heart Disease?
Looking at the causes behind heart disease does not provide details on who may be more likely to develop these conditions. This is why men should also consider potential risk factors. Several risk factors have been identified in the past.
Men who identify these risks in their own life should be cautious. While it is not a guarantee that the man will develop heart disease, it does put the person at a significantly higher risk of these conditions.
Some critical risks that have been linked to the likeliness of developing heart disease include:
- High blood pressure is a key factor, causing damage to the walls of blood vessels.
- High cholesterol levels, which causes arteries to become clogged.
- People who smoke are also much more likely to develop heart disease.
- Those who are obese are also at an increased risk of developing heart-related conditions. The same applies to people who are overweight.
- Diabetic patients are also considered to be more likely to develop heart disease.
- A person with a family history of heart disease is more likely to develop these conditions themselves too.
- Age also plays a role as a risk factor. Older age is linked to a higher chance of heart disease.
The lifestyle of a person also affects their likeliness for developing heart disease. It has previously been found that people who eat junk food a lot, and those who fail to exercise enough are also at a significantly higher risk of developing certain types of heart disease.
Some of these risks are unavoidable. Age and gender, as well as family history, for example. These are all factors that a person cannot change at all.
Men and women share many of the same symptoms of heart disease and heart attacks. However, as women are less likely to experience crushing chest pain, they more likely to ignore their cardiac symptoms as it is less obvious that they relate specifically to heart health.
Other risk factors, however, are avoidable. By addressing some of these risk factors, a person may become less likely to develop heart disease.
Signs Of Heart Disease
Heart disease does not always come with obvious signs and symptoms. In many people, heart disease is only detected once the condition causes complications to occur. There are still a few often-overlooked signs that men should take notice of.
We share ten particular signs of heart disease that should never go unnoticed among men. When these are recognized, men need to visit a doctor.
When heart disease is diagnosed early, then treatment yields better results in many cases.
1) Chest Discomfort
Discomfort in the chest region is often one of the first symptoms of heart disease developing. The discomfort may present as a heavy feeling. Some people explain it as a pushing sensation on their chests. There may sometimes be an accompanying pain or a burning sensation too. Chest discomfort can be a sign of coronary artery disease in some cases.
2) Nausea, Indigestion, Heartburn, or Stomach Pain
In cases where a person experiences stomach pain, heartburn, indigestion, and nausea as a sign of heart disease, then it is considered severe. These symptoms are not always caused by heart disease. Several other factors can cause these symptoms too. When a cardiovascular condition causes these symptoms, it would usually be a sign of a heart attack.
3) Pain that Spreads to the Arm
When pain spreads from the chest toward the arm, there is a general concern regarding a heart attack. This is actually one of the most common symptoms a person may experience when they do suffer a heart attack. This symptom can sometimes be a sign of atherosclerosis too. A cold feeling may accompany the pain. Numbness and weakness could possibly also develop in the affected arm.
4) Feel Dizzy or Lightheaded
Blood vessels can constrict or narrow over time. When this occurs, it is more difficult for blood to pass through the veins and arteries, and this puts a greater strain on the heart when it pumps.
When the heart fails to pump blood to the brain and certain areas of the body, it is possible to experience complications like feeling lightheaded. This is due to the lack of oxygen that happens when there is not enough blood flow being pumped through the body. Light-headedness and dizziness have been linked to heart arrhythmias, as well as cardiomyopathy.
5) Throat or Jaw Pain
Similar to how a heart attack can cause pain to spread to the arm, some people will experience pain in their jaw during such a cardiovascular event. When jaw pain develops gradually over a long period of time, it could also be a sign of underlying heart disease. Atherosclerosis, for example, is known to contribute to pain symptoms in both the jaw and the throat.
6) You Get Exhausted Easily
Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to tissue throughout the body. Cells use these elements to produce energy. When blood supply is adversely affected, then the heart cannot ensure all bodily tissues gain access to the oxygen and nutrients it needs. This can lead to a lack of energy and a frequent session of fatigue.
Snoring is not only annoying but can sometimes be a sign that a person is suffering from heart disease. Persistent and loud snoring may be a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea.
This condition causes a lack of oxygen in the body while a person sleeps. In turn, the lack of oxygen can lead to problems with the patient’s cardiovascular system.
A person with obstructive sleep apnea is slowly damaging their heart muscle when no treatment is implemented to assist in reducing the effects of the condition.
8) A Cough That Won’t Quit
A consistent cough is often associated with respiratory conditions. A person may consider this a sign of a lung infection or sometimes irritation caused by smoking, for example.
What many people do not know is that a cough that simply fails to go away can sometimes be a sign of heart disease too.
One particularly important condition to take note of here would be a heart infection. If this is the case, the cough will often be persistent and dry. The coughing will be accompanied by other symptoms too. These symptoms may include swelling in the abdomen. Shortness of breath, weakness, fever, and skin rashes may also occur.
9) Your Lets, Feet, and Ankles Are Swollen
Selling in the lower extremities is often considered an important sign of heart disease. While some other factors may lead to swelling in these areas, such as kidney problems, heart disease should not be overlooked.
When heart problems cause lower extremity swelling, the patient may be developing heart failure. This means the heart cannot pump blood to all areas of the body. The disease leads to the accumulation of fluids in the body. This contributes to edema.
10) Irregular Heart Beat
An irregular heartbeat can mean many things. When a person drinks too much caffeine, they could experience an irregular heartbeat. This is especially the case if the person is sensitive to caffeine.
In some cases, an irregular heartbeat may be much more serious. It could indicate the development or presence of heart disease. Conditions associated with an irregular heartbeat include heart arrhythmias, cardiomyopathy, and valvular heart disease.
Heart disease contributes to at least one in every four deaths recorded in the United States. There are different types of heart diseases that a person can suffer from. Some heart diseases will not cause early symptoms. In these cases, a patient only gains awareness of the condition once complications develop.
There are a few potential signs of heart disease that many people overlook. We considered ten important signs of heart disease that men should never overlook.
Recognizing these signs can yield an early diagnosis. This may assist in preventing severe complications and help manage heart health more effectively.