Pulse at one hundred and eighty: early detection of cardiovascular diseases
Silent and insidious, but with fatal consequences: cardiovascular diseases. According to the Federal Statistical Office, almost every second death in Germany alone can be attributed to a heart or vessel disorder. However, the collective term hides a large number of different diseases, which often arise unnoticed and are mutually dependent.
"These include, for example, high blood pressure and vascular calcification, which are the main triggers for a life-threatening heart attack or stroke," says Dr. Sebastian Grünig, specialist for internal medicine and cardiology at radprax Wuppertal. Early diagnosis of a malfunctioning cardiovascular system is therefore crucial to prevent complications. The expert explains what the first signs of the affected person should be and what the treatment steps look like.
Risk factor high blood pressure
If there is increased pressure in the vessels, doctors speak of what is known as hypertension. Unfortunately, this initially does not cause any complaints and often remains undetected for a long time. However, if patients suffer increasingly from headaches, dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pressure or so-called heart stumbling, these noticeable warning signs must be taken seriously. "Because hypertension overloads the vascular walls in the long run and causes serious damage to the heart, kidneys or brain, including a heart attack," warns the doctor. Overweight, stress and a lack of exercise are among the risk factors. Enormous alcohol consumption, smoking and an excessive salt or meat diet also favor the pressure on the walls of the vessels.
Vascular calcification, also called arteriosclerosis, is one of the main causes of cardiovascular diseases. "Deposits of lime and fat form on the arteries, which constrict the blood vessels over time and thus cause dangerous circulatory disorders," explains Dr. Greenish. In the worst case, there is even a complete occlusion of the vessels, which triggers a heart attack or stroke.
Which symptoms occur depends on the affected area. A narrowing of the coronary arteries is manifested, for example, by chest pain, but in the case of carotid arteries, the deposits often lead to paralysis or speech disorders. In such cases, those affected should immediately consult a doctor. In particular, smoking, diabetes, high blood and cholesterol levels and high blood pressure increase the risk of developing atherosclerosis.
If vascular calcification is suspected, doctors first measure the blood flow in the affected area using a special form of ultrasound. “With this so-called Doppler sonography, in addition to the usual organ structures, speeds of blood flow can also be recognized and possible bottlenecks located. Depending on the severity and severity of atherosclerosis, a narrowing can be treated with medication or, if necessary, surgery, ”emphasizes the radprax expert. If there is a suspicion of hypertension, only repeated measurements of the blood pressure provide information.
To achieve a more meaningful result, doctors prescribe so-called long-term measurements. For this, sufferers wear a measuring device with a cuff on their arm for twenty-four hours, which automatically measures and records blood pressure at short intervals. As a rule, hypertension can be normalized well with a change in diet and lifestyle.
Only if this is unsuccessful can blood pressure lowering agents be considered. In order to prevent cardiovascular diseases in the long term, in addition to regular check-ups by the doctor, it is important to eat a healthy and balanced diet, to avoid cigarettes and to exercise enough. (sb, pm)