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Information for patients

Heart disease has many forms. Here we explain what cardiovascular disease (CVD) is and we focus on some of the risk factors that can cause CVD including high blood pressure and high cholesterol. We explain what atrial fibrillation is and look at cardiovascular risk in diabetic patients.

In each subpage, you will also find some useful links to other trusted resources.

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What is cardiovascular disease?

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is usually associated with a build-up of fatty deposits inside the arteries – known as atherosclerosis – and an increased risk of blood clots. It can also be associated with damage to arteries in organs such as the brain, heart, kidneys and eyes.

The three main conditions are:

CVD is usually associated with a build-up of fatty deposits inside the arteries (atherosclerosis) and an increased risk of blood clots.

It can also be associated with damage to arteries in organs such as the brain, heart, kidneys and eyes.

How to prevent CVD

There are many things you can do to reduce your chances of developing CVD including lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol levels as well as leading a healthy lifestyle, which can have a huge impact to help prevent CVD.

Watch this animation from BHF to learn more about cardiovascular disease.

Causes of CVD

The exact cause of CVD isn't clear, but there are many things that can increase your risk of developing CVD. The more risk factors you have, the greater your chances are of developing CVD.

Most cardiovascular disease is caused by risk factors that can be changed, treated or controlled – things like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, being overweight or obese, smoking, not enough exercise and diabetes. 

But some risk factors can’t be changed – advancing age, for example, brings with it more risk.  Gender also influences CVD risk.  Men are generally more at risk, as are women after the menopause.  And if you have a family history of CVD, where a close blood relative (mother, father, sister or brother) had CVD or stroke before the age of 55 years (for men) or 65 years (for women), this also increases the risk.

Symptoms of CVD

Symptoms of heart disease vary based on what condition you have and can include:

  • chest pain
  • pain, weakness or numb legs and/or arms
  • breathlessness
  • very fast or slow heartbeat, or palpitations
  • feeling dizzy, lightheaded or faint
  • fatigue
  • swollen limbs.

You can read more about how to improve risk factors that can be changed, treated or controlled on the web page dedicated to each condition on this website:

 

 

WHAT IS HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE?

 

How can you control it or prevent it?

Learn more here

 

 

WHAT IS HIGH CHOLESTEROL?

 

How can you control it or prevent it?

Learn more here

 

 

 

 

WANT SOME ADVICE AND TIPS ON HOW TO KEEP YOUR HEART HEALTHY?

 

Learn more here

     

How healthy is your heart?

Check your heart age here

What does it tell you about your heart?  Whatever the answer, now is the right time to think about how to change your lifestyle for the better. We've put together some of our favourite sources of information, advice and help so that you can find them easily, check the Healthier Lives page now.

You could also talk to your practice nurse about how you can get the most health benefits from this information.

What is Atrial Fibrillation?

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a type of irregular heartbeat. 

It can increase the risk of a blood clot forming inside the chambers of the heart, which can lead to a stroke. AF increases stroke risk by around five times.

Although AF can greatly increase the risk of stroke, there are other factors that can contribute to a stroke. These include smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, physical inactivity, being overweight and diabetes.
With appropriate treatment, the risk of stroke from AF can be substantially reduced.

Want to know more?

 

Resources for communities to help prevent CVD

This NHS guide provides some useful information about how communities can support people to have a better understanding of their risk of developing cardiovascular disease and what they can do to prevent it. Download the guide here.

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