Are you experiencing breathlessness, chest pain (angina), unexplained fatigue, nausea, stomach pain, sweating, leg pain, arm pain, jaw or back pain, swollen ankles, and chest palpitations?
Has your doctor diagnosed you with heart disease?
What is heart disease?
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) refers to all diseases of the heart and circulation but most commonly refers to coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke and other blood vessel diseases. Other heart conditions include congenital heart disease, heart valve disease and disease of the heart muscle (cardiomyopathy). CVD is one of the leading causes of death and disability in Ireland.
The underlying cause for CHD and stroke is atherosclerosis. This refers to the build up of fatty deposits that form plaques on the inner lining of the blood vessels.
Risk factors include:
- Age, sex, and family history – non-modifiable risk factors.
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Unhealthy diet
- Physical inactivity
- Obesity or being overweight.
- Unrelieved stress
Having a heart healthy lifestyle is the most important thing you can do to prevent heart disease and stroke. We cannot change the non-modifiable risk factors for CVD; therefore, it is important to address the modifiable risk factors through lifestyle changes.
The tests used to diagnose CVD depend on your risk factors and symptoms.
Your GP will do a physical examination and ask about your family medical history before organizing any tests.
Tests may include blood tests, ECG, echocardiogram, a Holter monitor, angiogram, a CT scan and MRI.
You may also be asked to do a stress test.
Treatment options depend on how your condition is presenting. Lifestyle changes are important to improve and prevent cardiovascular disease. Medications may be prescribed by your GP or cardiologist, and you may also require specific procedures or surgeries.
Cardiac rehabilitation aims to improve the physical and emotional health of people who have experienced a cardiac event and to reduce the risk of having another cardiac event.
Cardiac rehabilitation involves:
- Individualised exercise prescription to improve cardiovascular fitness safely.
- Education about heart disease and ways to manage risk factors associated with CVD. Topics typically include controlling high blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, promoting healthy eating habits, weight management, diabetes management, increasing physical activity levels, improving psychological wellbeing, and smoking cessation.
Cardiac rehabilitation can benefit the following conditions:
- Heart attack (myocardial infarction)
- Coronary artery stenting (PCI)
- Coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG)
- Stable angina pectoris
- Heart valve repair or replacement
- Heart transplant
- Stable and optimally managed heart failure
To learn more about heart disease register for the next complimentary education session by clicking the on the following link.Click here to book
Written by James Murray, Cardiac Physiotherapist.