# Tuesday, February 16, 2010
                 
Canadians all across the country spent the weekend celebrating Valentine's Day on Saturday. And while the majority of men and women enjoyed affairs of the heart this weekend not enough are taking care of their heart. In fact, Health Canada states that although mortality rates have been reduced in the past forty years, heart disease is still one of the leading causes of death in Canadians. 1.6 millions Canadians are estimated to be living with either heart disease or those who are living with the effects of a stroke.

Anyone who gets a diagnosis for heart/cardiovascular disease should know that this disease is preventable and manageable, especially when it comes to making changes for a healthier lifestyle. There are 6 different types of cardiovascular disease (cardiovascular disease refers to more than one disease of the circulatory system, including the heart and blood vessels, whether the blood vessels are affecting the lungs, brain, kidneys, etc. These 6 are the leading cause of death in Canadians:
 
  • Ischemic Heart Disease: This is the most common type of cardiovascular disease in Canadians and other industrialized countries; this refers to problems with the circulation of blood to the heart muscle. A partial blockage of one or more of the coronary arteries can result in a lack of enough oxygenated blood (ischemia) which then causes symptoms such as angina (chest pain) and dyspnea (shortness of breath).An artery's complete blockage causes necrosis (damage to the tissues) and/or a myocardial infarction (heart attack).
  • Cerebrovascular (Stroke): This refers to a problem with the circulation of blood in the blood vessels of the brain. A blockage with effects lasting less than 24 hours is known as a transient ischemic attack. Complete blockage with long-term effects is known as a cerebrovascular thrombosis (clot). It is also common for a blood vessel in the brain bursting which results in long term effects on health.
  • Peripheral Vascular Disease: This disease affects the circulation found primarily in the legs; patients with this disease typically complain of pain in their calves, especially when walking.
  • Heart Failure: This occurs when the pumping action of the heart cannot provide enough blood to the rest of the body as it is needed, resulting in damage to the heart muscle (i.e. from a heart attack) or from excessive, chronic abuse of alcohol, or because of a heart muscle known as cardiomyopathy. People with heart failure usually complain of shortness of breath as well as leg swelling.
  • Rheumatic Heart Disease: This was once more common among Canadians, but now is more prevalent in many poor countries. This disease begins in childhood with a bacterial infection which affects joints and heart valves; the heart problems appear many years later, in which often the heart valves require to be replaced via surgery. Other infections can also occur attacking the inner tissues of the heart including valves (endocarditic) and the outer tissues overlying the heart (pericarditis).
  • Congenital Heart Disease: This begins because of a problem with the structure of the heart due to a birth defect. These anatomical defects can be as minor as a small hole in one of the inside walls of the heart or they can be as major and complex which can affect the way blood flows through the heart and lungs. Some congenital heart problems can be fatal unless immediately corrected by surgery, others cause disability in varying degrees and can be treated by surgery later in life with either one or more surgeries.
This blog dealt with identifying the major types of cardiac disease; the next blog will address treatment and identification issues surrounding cardiac disease.

RSS 2.0