Heart disease goes beyond the heart
American Heart Association
Annual statistics update reports on broad spectrum of cardiovascular diseases
Peripheral arterial disease may not sound familiar, but it affects 8 to 12 million Americans, and is one of a host of cardiovascular disorders that go beyond the heart.
"While we are becoming more aware of diseases affecting the heart, most people are unaware of the disorders beyond heart attacks and stroke that fall under the cardiovascular umbrella," said Augustus Grant, M.D., Ph.D., president of the American Heart Association and professor of medicine at Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina.
New data from the American Heart Association's Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics – 2004 Update reveal the burden of these often-chronic diseases.
Some of these disorders include congestive heart failure, peripheral arterial disease (clogged vessels in the arms and legs), end-stage renal disease and venous thromboembolism (blood clot).
"Cardiovascular disease can affect any blood vessel, or group of vessels, in the body," Grant said. "This creates a domino effect of health problems that can potentially affect every organ in the body..
"These disorders often go hand-in-hand, with one problem leading to another, and another. Treatment options become more limited the sicker a person is, so prevention is really the best weapon. Once someone reaches middle-age with all of these health problems, there's no going back – these are chronic, progressive diseases."
Congestive Heart Failure
Based on data from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, at age 40 the lifetime risk of developing congestive heart failure for both men and women is one in five. Furthermore, 80 percent of men and 70 percent of women under age 65 with congestive heart failure (CHF) will die within eight years.
CHF is a condition in which the heart can't pump enough blood to the body's other organs. The "failing" heart keeps working but not as efficiently as it should. People with heart failure can't exert themselves because they become short of breath and tired. Heart failure also affects the kidneys' ability to dispose of sodium and water.
Peripheral Arterial Disease
Peripheral artery disease (PAD) affects 12 to 20 percent of Americans 65 and older (4.5 to 7.6 million people). Despite its prevalence and cardiovascular risk implications, only 25 percent of PAD patients are undergoing treatment. PAD is a condition similar to coronary artery disease and carotid artery disease. In PAD, fatty deposits build up along artery walls and affect blood circulation, mainly in arteries leading to the legs and feet. In its early stages, a common symptom is cramping or fatigue in the legs and buttocks during activity. People with PAD have a higher risk of death from stroke and heart attack, due to the risk of blood clots.
End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD)
The incidence of reported ESRD therapy has almost doubled in the past 10 years. The statistics update reports that 378,862 patients were being treated for ESRD by the end of 2000, and that 73,342 patients died from ESRD in 2000. Blacks and Native Americans have much higher rates of ESRD than whites and Asians. Blacks represent 32 percent of treated ESRD patients.
ESRD (also called end-stage kidney disease) is generally an irreversible state during which dialysis or kidney transplantation is needed to sustain life. Diabetes is the primary cause of ESRD. It's also closely related to high blood pressure. ESRD is most prevalent between ages 65-69. The vascular abnormalities accompanying diabetes can produce chronic renal disease that, in turn, increases the risk for CVD. This scenario illustrates the intimate interaction between the kidney and CVD. Kidney disease can represent either a cause or a consequence of CVD.
Venous Thromboembolism (VTE)
More than 200,000 new cases of venous thromboembolism (VTE) occur annually. Of these people, 30 percent die within three days. Pulmonary embolism causes death in one-fifth of these cases suddenly and within a month of diagnosis in 12 percent of cases.
VTE is a blood clot that moves through the bloodstream until it lodges in a narrowed vessel and blocks circulation. It occurs for the first time in about 100 people per 100,000 each year in the United States. About one-third of these are pulmonary embolism, while about two-thirds have deep vein thrombosis alone. Deep vein thrombosis is when a blood clot occurs in the legs. Pulmonary embolism occurs when that clot travels through the bloodstream, and obstructs a vessel in the lungs.
For more information, or to contact American Heart Association, see their website at: www.americanheart.org
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