- high cholesterol
- high blood pressure (hypertension)
- age (postmenopausal women are at increased risk)
- metabolic syndrome, which is a combination of three or more of these factors: abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, glucose intolerance (also called prediabetes) or high triglycerides combined with low good (HDL) cholesterol
- homocysteine, an amino acid normally found in the body that may be a marker
- C-reactive protein (CRP), a sign of inflammation that may raise your heart disease risk
- pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and pregnancy-induced hypertension
- systemic autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis
3 AnswersHealthyWomen answeredOver the last two decades, researchers have unearthed many risk factors for developing cardiovascular diseases. These include:
1 AnswerHealthyWomen answeredEven if you are under 40 years of age, you should be concerned about heart disease because the lifestyle you lead now may be contributing to atherosclerotic buildup in your arteries -- the beginning of coronary heart disease. Getting regular exercise and eating a diet rich in vegetables and whole grains and low in saturated fat and cholesterol is important to maintaining heart health. All women over the age of 20 should have their blood cholesterol tested every five years and their blood pressure checked every one to two years. Blood pressure is usually checked every time you visit a healthcare professional.
1 AnswerRealAge answeredCorlanor (ivabradine) is a drug prescribed to treat certain patients suffering from chronic heart failure. Patients likely to benefit from taking twice-daily Corlanor tablets include those:
- whose lower-left heart is not pumping well
- whose heart failure symptoms are stable
- who are taking beta blockers at the highest dose they can tolerate
- who have a normal resting heartbeat of at least 70 beats per minute.
Corlanor is not recommended for pregnant women or those planning to become pregnant as it may cause fetal harm. Breastfeeding is also discouraged. Patients should report any adverse effects to their doctor right away; these may include dizziness, fatigue, low blood pressure, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, or chest pain. Patients with a history of liver impairment should avoid this drug. Patients are also advised to avoid grapefruit juice and St. John's wort while taking Corlanor.
1 AnswerRealAge answeredCor pulmonale is a serious heart condition that can result in heart failure. It is usually caused by long-term high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs that leads to enlargement and thickening of the right ventricle of the heart. That enlargement and thickening make it harder for the heart to pump blood normally, which ultimately results in heart failure.
The following chronic lung conditions that may cause low oxygen levels in the blood can lead to cor pulmonale:
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- chronic blood clots in the lungs
- cystic fibrosis
- scarring of the lung tissue
- obstructive sleep apnea, which causes periods of stopped breathing during sleep
- shortness of breath and a pounding heart during exercise
- feeling lightheaded
- chest pain
- swelling in the legs, ankles and/or feet
- bluish tint to lips and fingers
1 AnswerDr. Anthony L. Komaroff, MD , Internal Medicine, answeredPericardial effusion is the medical term for a buildup of fluid inside the sac that surrounds the heart. This sac, called the pericardium, protects the heart, helps hold it in shape, and prevents it from expanding too much when blood volume increases.
There usually isn't any fluid between the pericardium and the heart muscle. Infection, a heart attack, heart or other surgery, injury, kidney failure, an underactive thyroid, and many other conditions can cause fluid to accumulate in the sac. This buildup can cause pain, interfere with heart function, or go entirely unnoticed.
Managing pericardial effusion depends on what is causing the fluid to accumulate and how fast it is happening. Treating the underlying cause usually eases the problem. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen are often prescribed to calm the inflammation and relieve pain and other symptoms.
If the buildup is preventing the chambers of the heart from fully filling with blood each time they relax, it may be necessary to draw fluid out of the pericardium with a needle. In some cases, heart surgery may be needed to drain fluid or cut away scar tissue.
Restrictive cardiomyopathy cannot always be prevented. However, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of serious complications from cardiomyopathy. Refrain from substances such as cigarettes, alcohol, and cocaine, which can agitate the heart. If you eat well and exercise regularly, you can also lower your risk.
Be sure to take any medications prescribed by your doctor. Taking medication for cardiomyopathy is important to controlling your symptoms and keeping your condition from getting worse. Exercise as recommended by your doctor so that you get the right amount of physical activity but do not over-exert yourself. Also, refrain from substances that can make cardiomyopathy worse, such as alcohol, cigarettes, and other drugs. If you suddenly cannot breathe or have extreme chest pain that does not go away, call 911.
To prevent cardiomyopathy, you should monitor your alcohol intake and be sure not to drink in excess. Also refrain from other substances that can lead to cardiomyopathy, such as cigarettes and cocaine. If you eat well and exercise regularly, you can also lower your risk.
One of the most important ways you can manage your illness is to always take your medications as prescribed. You should also follow a diet low in salt, as this will decrease the amount of fluid you retain in your body. This will decrease the amount of blood that your heart has to pump, reduce the amount of swelling in your legs and abdomen, and decrease the amount of fluid that accumulates in your lungs. You should also avoid mental stress and have rest physical periods to reduce the amount of work required by the heart. You should follow your doctor's regarding the amount and type of exercise and other physical activities that are appropriate. It is important to avoid excessive physical activity, but mild non-competitive aerobic exercise is encouraged for many people with dilated cardiomyopathy. If you are a smoker, you should stop smoking, and you should also avoid drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.
The first step in diagnosing cardiomyopathy may be a physical exam in which your doctor will look for symptoms such as swelling in your legs and irregularities in your heartbeat. Afterwards, several tests can determine the shape of your heart and whether blood is flowing properly. These may include a chest x-ray, an electrocardiogram, an echocardiogram, a CT scan, or an MRI. In some cases your doctor may perform a cardiac catheterization in order to examine a piece of heart tissue.