The cardiovascular system, also known as the circulatory system, includes the heart and a tight network of blood vessels, such as arteries, veins, and capillaries.
The primary function of the heart is to pump blood and oxygen around the body and to transport waste products to the organs that help get rid of them. Blood vessels like the veins provide the heart with blood, whereas arteries carry the blood away from it.
When the circulatory system stops functioning as well as it should, it can lead to Cardiovascular Diseases (CVDs), which claimed an estimated 1.79 crore lives in 2019, of which 85% were due to heart attack and stroke, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Although in the early stages, heart diseases do not show any noticeable symptoms, over time, you may notice certain signs in the body. Speaking with the OnlyMyHealth team, Dr Subrat Akhoury, Director-Cath Lab and Interventional Cardiologist and Head, Asian Hospital, Faridabad, shed light on the same.
Heart Disease Risk
Heart disease occurs when the arteries of the heart fail to deliver enough oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the rest of the body. This can be caused by cholesterol deposits or plaque formation, which can narrow down the arteries, restricting the flow of blood to the heart. The condition is also called atherosclerosis.
Anyone and everyone can develop a heart disease. However, some people may be more prone to it than others.
According to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), women aged 55 or older or men aged 45 or older are at a greater risk of heart disease. Apart from that, health conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and diabetes also raise the risk of cardiovascular issues.
Moreover, lifestyle factors such as an unhealthy diet, limited physical activity, smoking, and excess alcohol consumption can also add to the disease burden.
Two Areas In The Body That Can Indicate Heart Problem
Dr Akhoury said, “The cardiovascular system is crucial in maintaining blood flow throughout the body. Heart disease often interferes with this process, affecting the heart’s ability to pump blood efficiently.”
According to him, one common cause of heart disease is atherosclerosis, a condition characterised by the buildup of plaque in the arteries.
“This plaque, composed of cholesterol, fat, and other substances, narrows the arteries, limiting blood flow. When arteries that supply the extremities become blocked or narrowed, it can result in decreased circulation, leading to sensations of coldness and numbness in the arms and legs,” he explained.
Additionally, when blood flow to the extremities diminishes, it may also deprive the area of sufficient oxygen levels, causing damage to the nerves and tissues in the arms and legs and leading to numbness and a cold sensation in the area.
Common Symptoms Of Heart Disease
Other common symptoms of heart disease include:
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Heart palpitations
- Fast or slow heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Unfortunately, it does not show any noticeable signs or symptoms, which is why it is often diagnosed at a later stage. The key is to assess the risk factors and take preventive measures against them. Eating healthy, indulging in regular exercise, and quitting smoking are some of the common ways to reduce the risk of heart disease. Also, be aware of even the slightest indication of a cardiovascular issue. Stay connected with a healthcare professional for the same.