Cardiovascular Diseases: Causes and Prevention Essay Example
Cardiovascular diseases are a topic that is widely popular and constantly discussed among physicians. Cardiovascular diseases, colloquially abbreviated as CVDs, refer to those illnesses associated to both the heart and blood vessels (Bauer, 2011). As far as medical research is concerned, there are myriad of cardiovascular diseases, each with associated symptoms and causes. Common CVDs include hypertensive heart disease, stroke, ischemic heart disease, peripheral artery disease and rheumatic heart disease. There are associated cardiovascular illnesses that are not significantly dominant; these include atrial fibrillation, aortic aneurysms and cardiomyopathy. This paper examines cardiovascular diseases and their causes. The paper will broadly be divided into three sections: cardiovascular diseases, main causes and prevention techniques. The essay will subscribe to both scholarly articles and scientific literatures to offer a comprehensive coverage of the topic.
Stroke, also called cardiovascular arrest, is the leading cardiovascular disease (Labarthe, 2011). Stroke occurs when blood supply to the brain is immediately interrupted. Strokes often appear in two ways. The first type involves the cases when blood vessels transporting blood to the brain might break leading to immense bleeding inside the brain. This type of cardiovascular arrest is called hemorrhagic and is mostly common in old people and those experiencing heart diseases and conditions. The second type of stroke is the ischemic stroke. This happens when a clot forms inside the blood vessel transporting blood to the brain abruptly stopping the supply of blood. The second type of stroke is the most common and usually proceeds due to a number of reasons including old age, shock and associated cardiovascular illnesses and conditions (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013). Often, stroke as a type of cardiovascular disease occurs as a result of blood blockage inside the brain leading to death of important brain cells. When cells do not receive blood, they are not oxygenated, which means that they can easily die due to shortage of oxygen. More specifically, stroke occurs due to the failure of blood to reach the brain, which results into death of cells. The American Heart Association observes that strokes kill close to 130,000 people in the United States per year. This figure translates to one in every 20 deaths (American Heart Association, 2015). On average, the AHA states that in every four minutes, one American dies of stroke. Another statistic quotes that annually, more than 785,000 Americans are diagnosed with some form of stroke. Of all these victims, approximately 61,000 are first to the disease or completely new to some form of heart illness (Watson & Preedy, 2012). Overall, medical sources and health research institutes are in unanimous agreement that stroke is the fifth leading cause of demise for the American population (American Heart Association, 1997).
Stroke Variance with Age
Scientists who have conducted research in cardiovascular illnesses argue that stroke is the greatest and most dreaded form of the disease. The number of people who continue to die from strokes is overwhelming meaning that this condition is a national health disaster. Now, it has become a common phenomenon and principle that the chance to have a stroke increases with age. More specifically, older people are amenable to a higher risk than their young counterparts. A study conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention observes that in 2009, 34% of patients diagnosed with stroke were 65 years and above (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013). This means that three-quarters of stroke victims were more than 65 years in age. In such a way, it is clear that stroke is a condition that needs to be evaluated from the age-criterion.
Geographic Distribution of Stroke
Geographically, the southeastern part of the United States hosts the largest number of stroke victims. The prevalence of stroke across the United States is mostly attributed to the southeastern part (Smith, 2009). The states where the cases of strokes are multiple include Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Maryland, Louisiana, Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee and the District of Columbia. Statistically, these states represent the highest number of stroke victims meaning that a close analysis and evaluation of the population should be done. Geographic distribution of strokes has been researched to identify if environmental and social problems are potent factors influencing cardiac arrest or strokes. In addition, recording the number of victims in each state and determining the leading states with victims is an important step in the fight against this cardiovascular disease.
Stroke is a cardiovascular disease meaning that it affects the heart and blood vessels. However, stroke is not anonymous, and similar to many other health conditions, it comes as a result of certain causes. High blood pressure is directly linked to stroke, which makes it the leading cause. When the rate of blood flow is high, the plasma is likely to build a clot. Dr. Kenneth Bauer, the managing director of Harvard Medical School argues that enzyme cyclooxygenase (COX) influences blood clot; thus, taking aspirin may help inactivate this enzyme (Bauer, 2011). Stroke victims are prescribed aspirin-related drugs and substances to inactive the enzyme and minimize the formation of blood clot inside blood vessels. Aspirin drugs inactivate the enzyme making platelets less sticky and overall reducing their likelihood to clot. However, high blood pressure may activate the enzyme leading to stroke. Therefore, high blood pressure is likely to induce stroke. People, especially those who are identified to be amenable to strokes, should be cautious on conditions that may increase blood pressure (Spence, 2006).
The second fold of causes for stroke is cholesterol. Cholesterol is a waxy and thick substance made in the liver and found in most consumed foods (Spence, 2006). Often, high amounts of cholesterol are perilous as they build around arties leading to slowed rate of blood flow. In such a way, cholesterol deposit in the artery narrows vessels, which leads to failure of blood flow towards the brain. In addition, cholesterol buildup slows down blood supply, which may become a precondition to a stroke and associated conditions of cardiovascular illnesses.
The third fold of causes for cardiovascular diseases is connected with lifestyle. Most people are exposed to consuming take away foods and associated meals, which increases the risk of having a heart disease. Basically, red meat and junks pose the risk of heart diseases. More specifically, they cause such heart conditions as valve failures and irregular heartbeats. The cumulative force of these conditions leads to the overall comprise of blood flow into the heart. As seen above, stroke comes as a result of failure of blood to reach the heart and vessels’ complete destruction, which leads to blood deposit inside the heart. Therefore, it is clear that lifestyle and courtesy of consumed foods can result to increased chances of heart conditions leading to stroke.
Physicians have pursued research that links diabetes to stroke. For example, Albini et al. in the study of cardiotoxicity argue that diabetes mellitus attracts conditions related to stroke (Albini, Pennesi, Donatelli, Cammarota, De Flora, & Noonan, 2009). Indeed, diabetes leads to a stark shortage of insulin, an enzyme that is responsible for the transportation of sugar and glucose inside brain cells. Lack of transportation of sugar leads to a build-up of glucose inside the vessels. This thickens the blood making it very hard for a streamlined flow.
Other causes associated with stroke include the sickle cell disease, salt, lack of physical activities and transient attacks. These causes are less sensitive than the ones mentioned above although some of them pose equally greater challenges for stroke. The International Journal for Nursing Studies observes that cardiac disorders are potent entry points for stroke. The journal advises that slight illnesses and diseases that have dominant connection with stroke should be taken seriously by physicians and medical experts. This should be done to minimize the greater risk of stroke, both hemorrhagic and ischemic arrests (IJNS, 2014).
The next part of the essay examines signs and symptoms of stroke. This part of the paper will subscribe to medical journals and related publications to give a comprehensive coverage of symptoms that a typical for stroke victims.
Signs and Symptoms of Stroke
A sudden numbness on the face, hand and arm is the first characteristic of an upcoming stroke. Patients recently diagnosed of ischemic stroke report sudden dysfunction of these organs. The Center of Disease Control is in agreement with the Clinical Digest that stroke is likely to induce failure in movement of these body organs leading to a reduced flow of blood. Confused and slowed speech is another symptom. Patients attacked by stroke are reported to experience difficulties in understanding, communication and a stark inability for speech.
There are reported cases of sight failure. Stroke patients experience trouble seeing and perceiving sight with both eyes. In a number of cases, one eye is open although the other fails to function. This failure is mostly attributable to the section of the brain that is subject to low blood supply. The inability to see ensues from the fact cells on this particular side of the eye are dead. Loss of balance and lack of proper coordination is another symptom of stroke. Patients stagger, tremble physically and fail to identify direction. This failure mostly comes as a result of the cerebrum damage. Lack of blood supply to the brain incapacitates the cerebrum, which is part of human’s brain responsible for movement, locomotion and balance.
The International Journal of Nursing observes that stroke induces severe headache. Stroke victims experience continuous aches on the left side of the head. This is the section mostly hit by lack of sufficient blood supply (Esselstyn, 2007). Other sources argue that there are both acute and sub-acute cardiotoxicity on the brain, which leads to severe incidences of headache. The force of headache as a result of stroke is what leads to associated symptoms: confusion, dizziness and to some extent lack of speech.
Prevention and Risk Minimization
Similar to most cardiovascular diseases, stroke can be minimized and potentially prevented. However, due to genetic reasons, it is hard to prevent it at a later stage, especially for individuals whose families have encountered this CVD. The first fold of efforts to prevent stroke is to identify risk factors. These include previous heart diseases, high levels of cholesterol in food, lifestyle, conditions and signs of high blood pressure, diabetes and sickle cell illness. Identification of the above risk factors enables the physician notice the possibility of a stroke. Therefore, it is easy to prepare for a stroke through prescription of appropriate medication including aspirin (Bauer, 2011).
Another risk minimization technique is exercises. Physical activities burn excessive fats and oils. This makes it hard for cholesterol to deposit inside the walls of blood vessels. Physical activities and exercises also increase the rate of heart beat allowing cardiac muscles to range with the unprecedented pace. More specifically, when the heart continuously pumps due to exercise, there is a significant increase in the strength of valves and tendons. These components of the heart become strong and do not fail due to an unexpected shock.
In a publication to counter the risk of cardiovascular arrest or stroke, the Harvard School of Medicine observes that lowering blood pressure by eating low quantities of salt is important. The source also supports loss of weight and consumption of adequate water as imperative towards preventing stroke (Bauer, 2011). Water burns cholesterol, fats and oils inside the human body minimizing deposits in cardio-vascular walls. Also, behavior has an impact in the formation of stroke-related conditions. Smokers are twice more likely to experience cardiac arrests than other people. Smoking also accelerates the formation of clot in myriad ways. It heightens the build-up of plaque and thickens the blood. Dr. Smith of the Harvard School of Medicine notes that smoking cessation is among the leading lifestyles that will help smokers reduce the risk of stroke (Smith, 2009).
The final effort to prevent and minimize the risk of arrest involves medication. The Journal Cardiotoxicity of Anticancer Drugs argues that it is more likely for a patient to suffer from both cancer and stroke. These diseases are related, and, therefore, there is a growing need to put special emphasis on antitoxic medications that are likely to counter initial effects. Doctor Bauer attaches critical significance to aspirin prescriptions in efforts to minimize the effects and attack of stroke. More specifically, aspirin inactivates enzyme cyclooxygenase, which hinders the formation of blood clot. Therefore, aspiring should be prescribed on a continuous for patients with potent signs of cardiac arrest. However, in cases of surgeries or when patients are likely to undergo a surgical operation and exercise, aspirin intake should be monitored or completely eliminated. Failure to do this might lead to a rebound effect, which is a phenomenon that increases the chances of having stroke twice. Thus, as much as prescriptions should be leveraged to counter adverse risks and conditions, they should be monitored on individuals depending on previous medical records.
The above efforts represent the overall collective fight with stroke and the majority of cardiovascular illnesses. Observing the above measures will not only save a patient from stroke. It will equally assist them to prevent an array of CVDs: hypersensitivity, peripheral artery disease, rheumatic heart disease, atrial fibrillation and aortic aneurysms.
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Fight against Cardiovascular Illnesses – The American Heart Association
The efforts of the American Heart Association (AHA) in making heart disease an important topic for Americans cannot be overlooked. The association drives critical cardiovascular models, systems and changes all over the United States. This is done to achieve the best practice in healthcare. By visiting the association’s website, one will be impressed by the number of initiatives, campaigns, researches and studies going on in the creation of lifestyle and health awareness on CVDs. The American Heart Association represents the collective efforts towards fighting cardiovascular illnesses. Obviously, it is high time to unite and implement the efforts that have been channeled in making healthcare a priority. The American Heart Association is not a building, as well as it is not a structure. Neither is it an erection or a fabrication. The association is a body of concerned Americans willing to champion the well-being of the nation. The large body of professionals, volunteers and supporters incorporated inside the AHA is what moves the nation closer to the American dream. This represents the collective fight towards cardiovascular illnesses, in particular, stroke and associated heart diseases.
The essay has described the phenomenon of cardiovascular illnesses. The paper has dissected into three primary sections: causes of cardiovascular illnesses (the most dominant which is stroke), signs and symptoms of stroke and associated heart diseases, and prevention and risk minimization techniques. The essay examines myriad academic sources and medicine journals to offer an expansive and critical view to the topic. Of special concern for the paper was to examine the current and future fight towards cardiovascular diseases. Here, the paper has identified the American Heart Association as the greatest body of advocacy and awareness against cardiovascular illnesses. The above analysis surmises the paper adding knowledge and creating insight into the threat of cardiovascular illnesses.