What are they?
The term “heart diseases” refer to several types of heart conditions that affect the heart and the cardiovascular system.
Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death globally. They are caused by both non-modifiable factors such as genetic predisposition, age, sex and modifiable factors such as unhealthy diet, sedentary lifestyle, cigarette smoking or alcohol abuse.
According to statistical data, men are more likely to develop cardiovascular diseases , compared to women. Estrogen helps younger women’s body protect her against heart disease. But the hormonal changes that occur during menopause can bring increased cardiovascular risk in the form of higher blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Major cardiovascular diseases
Cardiovascular diseases include a number of heart and blood vessel problems that differ from each other in terms of treatment and symptoms:
- The most common disorder is hypertension, a disorder characterized by consistently high blood pressure. It can be caused by advancing age, genetic predisposition or obesity and associated metabolic syndrome.
- Ischemic heart disease can be congenital, or present from birth, caused by plaque buildup in the wall of the arteries that supply blood to the heart or it can appear at a later stage. In this case, it is mainly caused by unhealthy diets and physical inactivity. In both cases, consequence is always a reduced supply of blood and oxygen to the heart muscle.
- Coronary spasms, a pathological condition characterized by sudden contractions of the muscles of the artery wall, resulting in a reduction in the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart muscle.
- Arteriosclerosis, which is the formation of plaques of lipid material in the arteries, resulting in a reduction in blood flow to the heart.
- Heart attack or stroke, which are among the main causes of mortality in the Western world, characterized by cholesterol plaques, which in the case of heart attack obstruct the blood supply in the coronary arteries of the heart, instead in stroke in the carotids.
- Cardiac dyspnea, or a condition characterized by difficulty in breathing, physical fatigue, breathlessness, a sense of weight on the stomach, inability to take deep breaths and severe metabolic suffering.
There are many causes of heart disease:
- Genetic predisposition;
- Sedentary lifestyle;
- Insulin resistance;
- High calorie diet;
- Fatty liver.
Similarly, the symptoms associated with heart disease are also of different types:
- Nausea and vomit;
- Physical fatigue;
- Sudden sweating
- Mental confusion;
- Pain in the chest or in the pit of the stomach or in the left arm.
The presence of cardiac disorders can be assessed through various diagnostic tests:
- Cardiac examination, with patient medical history;
- Blood analysis with monitoring of the lipid panel and cardiac enzymes;
- Computed tomography, a test performed to detect the presence of calcified plaques in the coronary arteries of the heart;
- Nuclear magnetic resonance is an examination that reproduces in detail the structure of the heart and blood vessels, through a signal emitted by a magnetic field. Useful for diagnosing structural changes in the heart and associated blood vessels;
- Coronarography is diagnostic test which involves analyzing the state of health of the arteries by injecting a contrast medium;
- The echocardiogram is an examination that allows us to evaluate the shape of the entire structure of the heart, namely the valves, myocardium and cavity;
- The stress test is an exam where a patient’s electrocardiogram is recorded during a stress test carried out on an exercise bike or treadmill. The test is carried out to better assess the function of the patient’s entire cardiovascular system.
Also in this case the therapy, for the treatment of heart ailments, can be natural or pharmacological. Surely drug therapy is adopted in case of genetic predisposition or chronic cardiovascular alterations, to the point that they can no longer be restored with a correct lifestyle.
The drugs used for the treatment of cardiovascular disorders are the following:
- The antianginal drugs are used to fight the feeling of tightness in the chest or shortness of breath, stimulate coronary vasodilation;
- Antihypertensives, which lower blood pressure, among the most used are diuretics, which have as their main objective to increase diuresis, so as to consequently lower the pressure;
- Anticoagulants, which have the main purpose of avoiding the aggregation of platelets;
- Cardioaspirin, which dissolves clots in the blood vessels;
- Statins, which lower bad cholesterol in the blood, preventing the formation of atheromatous plaques.
The problem with treating heart ailments with drugs is that they can have serious side effects, such as:
- Dermatological disorders, such as edema or skin abrasions;
- Gastrointestinal disorders such as vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain;
- Muscle-joint disorders, cramps and muscle aches;
- Metabolic disorders such as liver and kidney changes.
At the same time there are natural remedies to combat cardiovascular diseases, which can be prescribed for those with cardiovascular alterations, due to a bad lifestyle and therefore caused by modifiable factors:
- Blueberries, radicchio, aubergines or all purple-colored fruit or vegetables, have a vasodilatory action and therefore a protective and functional action for the cardiovascular system;
- The tomatillo is a fruit with a high concentration of potassium, a mineral salt with hypotensive action;
- Carnosine, found in fish and white meat, is a protein with protective action for the heart;
- Hawthorn has hypotensive and relaxing actions;
- The lime has vasodilatory actions;
- Primrose and artichoke extracts also have vasodilatory and hypotensive actions.
A correct lifestyle associated with a targeted and specific diet are the main rules to prevent or combat heart disease, the diet must be balanced in terms of macronutrients such as proteins, fats and carbohydrates, but it must absolutely provide for the elimination of drinks alcoholic.
- Reducing the consumption of salt, if not eliminating it completely in chronic and severe cases, this does not only mean removing the table salt, but also eliminating from the shopping cart, all packaged products that contain monosodium glutamate, citrate or sodium benzoate;
- Prefer the consumption of whole grains, with a hypolipidic action;
- Avoid the consumption of packaged and salted foods;
- Give preference to the consumption of simple vegetable-based condiments;
- Prefer the consumption of foods rich in vitamin K, with an anticoagulant action, present in foods such as spinach, green tea, broccoli, lentils, cauliflower, sauerkraut and lettuce;
- Prefer the consumption of at least 10 almonds or walnuts a day, rich in fatty acids of the omega 6 series with antithrombotic and hypolipidic actions;
- Increase the frequency of consumption of oily fish, rich in omega 3 with hypolipidic actions;
- Use extra virgin olive oil as a condiment, rich in monounsaturated fats with hypotensive and hypolipidic action;
- Reduce the frequency of consumption, to once a week, of foods of animal origin, rich in cholesterol, such as red meat, cold cuts, eggs, dairy products and cheeses.