In a typical lifetime, your heart would beat approximately 2.5 billion times, moving approximately 1.5 gallons (5.5 litres) of blood throughout your body daily to keep you alive and well. Your blood carries essential nutrients and oxygen required by your body cells to function properly.
Though critical in keeping you alive, your heart can fail or fail to function properly if you do not take good care of it. Poor dietary and bad habits, lack of physical activity and certain genetic factors can cause your heart to not function at its optimum, thereby having a negative impact to your overall health. In this article, we focus on 8 of the most significant heart conditions that you should be aware of.
1. Coronary Heart Disease
This occurs when the arteries delivering blood to your heart are damaged. Usually, this is caused by the build-up of cholesterol (plaque) and inflammation, which narrows your arteries and reduces blood flow. When this happens, you may experience symptoms like chest pain and difficulty in breathing or even a heart attack.
2. Hypertensive Heart Disease
Hypertensive heart diseases are characterised by conditions that are caused by high blood pressure. When your heart works under too much pressure, it can cause disorders such as heart failure, thicker heart muscles, coronary heart diseases and other serious conditions. Hypertensive heart disease can be quite severe, and at times, may even lead to death.
3. Heart Attack
Heart attack is the second cause of death in Singapore. It occurs when blood flow to a part of your heart is blocked, cutting off the supply of oxygen to your heart muscles. This blockage is usually caused by a build-up of cholesterol, fat or other compounds that clog up your arteries. A heart attack is fatal condition – if a sufferer doesn’t receive immediate medical attention, the affected heart tissue will die.
4. Heart Failure
Heart failure develops when the muscles of your heart are not pumping blood as hard as it should be. This can happen if you have conditions like coronary artery disease or high blood pressure, which makes your heart muscles too weak to pump blood properly. Healthy lifestyle changes can go a long way in helping to tackle this condition and improve your quality of life.
5. Heart Arrhythmias
This condition happens when electrical impulses, which regulate your heartbeats, do not function properly. As such, your heart may beat either too fast, too slow or irregularly. Some arrhythmias can cause milder symptoms such as a racing or fluttering heart, whereas others can be more severe and even life-threatening.
6. Congenital Heart Disease
This condition includes heart abnormalities or defects in the heart walls, valves or vessels that were present at birth. There can be many kinds of abnormalities – some may cause no symptoms, while others can be mild or life-threatening.
7. Cardiac Arrest
Cardiac arrest is quite different from a heart attack –and it occurs when there is an electrical disturbance in your heart which prevents it from pumping blood to your body. This is a serious disease and if urgent medical attention is not given, the sufferer may die.
8. Cerebrovascular Disease
There are a range of conditions that fall under this category, with stroke being the most common. Stroke causes a permanent loss of sensation or motor function. When you’re having a stroke, you’ll experience a sudden onset of specific warning signs – facial drooping, arm weakness and difficulty speaking. Please call 995 and seek immediate medical attention if you notice these signs.
While most of these conditions may seem severe, they can be prevented through healthy lifestyle changes. For example, eating healthily and exercising regularly can prevent diseases like diabetes and high blood cholesterol, which reduces the risk of severe conditions like heart failure in the long run.
If you notice any symptoms such as chest pain, difficulty breathing, irregular heartbeats, chronic fatigue or dizziness, please seek medical attention as soon as possible.