Heart Disease and Stroke

What is Heart Disease and Stroke? 

Heart disease and stroke are types of cardiovascular disease. The cardiovascular system, also called the circulatory system, is made up of the heart and all the blood vessels that pump and move blood to various parts of your body.

Coronary artery disease (heart disease) is a common heart condition that affects the major blood vessels that supply blood to the heart muscle. High blood pressure is a leading cause of heart disease and stroke because it damages the lining of the arteries. This makes them more vulnerable to the harmful buildup of plaque, which narrows the arteries leading to the heart and brain. When heart arteries become more narrow, it reduces the flow of blood to the heart and other parts of the body. This can lead to a heart attack, chest pain (angina), or stroke.

Cardiovascular disease is a larger term for a number of conditions that are related to lifestyle, including:

  • Coronary heart disease – either angina or heart attack (acute myocardial infarction)
  • Stroke – either caused by a blood clot blockage (called an ischemic stroke) or the rupturing of a blood vessel and bleeding (called a hemorrhagic stroke)
  • Peripheral vascular disease – blocking of the large blood vessels that supply blood to your limbs

A form of hereditary heart disease is congenital heart disease – inherited conditions that affect the structure (such as valves) of the heart. While age and family history play a part, your lifestyle is the biggest factor in the condition of your cardiovascular system. Eating healthy food, being more physically active, and maintaining a healthy weight can have a significant impact on cardiovascular health. 

What are the symptoms of Heart Disease and Stroke?

Signs and Symptoms of Stroke:

If you have any of these signs below, call 911 and get to a hospital right away. Do not drive yourself, as someone experiencing a stroke may be unable to properly control a motor vehicle.

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg - especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion; trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing or blurred vision in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

Signs and Symptoms of Heart Disease:

  • Chest pain, chest tightness, chest pressure, and chest discomfort (angina)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain in the neck, jaw, throat, upper stomach area, or back
  • Pain, numbness, weakness, or coldness in the legs or arms 

Coronary artery disease symptoms may be different for men and women. For instance, men are more likely to have chest pains, while women are more likely to have other symptoms along with chest discomfort, such as shortness of breath, nausea, and excessive fatigue.

How to prevent Heart Disease and Stroke:

You can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, by making healthier lifestyle choices. These include:

  • Eat healthy foods – avoid processed foods and foods high in sugar and salt.
  • Exercise - try to get at least 30 minutes of activity a day, 5 days a week.
  • Maintain a healthy weight – your body reacts well to reducing excess fat.
  • Manage stress – meditation, breathing techniques, and calming routines can help prevent stress in daily life.
  • Discuss health improvement with your doctor to explore lifestyle choices that will reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. 
  • Not smoking - tobacco is a major risk factor, with nicotine directly narrowing your blood vessels.

Treating Heart Disease and/or Stroke:

Depending on the type of heart disease, certain healthy lifestyle habits, like eating a low-fat and low-salt diet, getting regular exercise and good sleep, and not smoking may be helpful. Alternatively, medicines can be used to control heart disease symptoms and prevent complications. Other people may also require surgery, but the type of treatment or surgery will depend on the amount of damage to the heart and the type of heart disease.

If you are suffering from a stroke, emergency care and treatment in a stroke unit of a hospital is mandatory. Medical care will vary depending on whether the stroke was ischemic or hemorrhagic, how long ago it occurred, and whether you have other health problems.

How can San Ysidro Health help?

San Ysidro Health offers high-quality, accessible primary care and other services that can help you manage your heart disease, if you are diagnosed.

By calling or texting (619) 662-4100, you can schedule an appointment today.

Specialty services, such as Cardiology, are also available at San Ysidro Health. To learn more about Specialty Medicare Care options at San Ysidro Health, click here.