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Understanding Major Heart Diseases

Cardiovascular diseases, medical issues related to the heart and blood vessels, are the leading cause of death for both women and men in the United States. In fact, one person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from these conditions. While these statistics are alarming, heart disease is both treatable and often preventable.

There is a wide range of conditions that fall under the category of “cardiovascular” or “heart disease.” With that in mind, it’s vital to know these conditions and their symptoms for early detection.

Arrhythmia

When there is a problem with the rate or rhythm of your heartbeat. It means that your heartbeat is either too fast, too slow, or irregular. In other words, your heart is not pumping blood effectively to your brain, lungs, and other organs. 

The most common symptoms of this disease are fatigue, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, chest pain, fainting, and shortness of breath. 

Cardiomyopathy

The heart becomes enlarged, thickened, or stiffened due to this disease. If not caught early, this disease can lead to heart failure. 

Symptoms include lightheadedness, shortness of breath, dizziness, irregular heartbeats, fatigue, swelling in the ankles, and fainting. 

Congenital Heart Defects

While other conditions we describe may develop over time, congenital heart defects appear at birth. Some examples include irregular heartbeats, leaky heart valves, and malformations in heart walls. While these conditions are present at birth, they sometimes are not discovered until later in life. 

Coronary Artery Disease 

Also called CAD, coronary artery disease causes the hardening and narrowing of your coronary arteries, later causing blockages and restricting blood flow to the heart. This condition is a common cause of heart attacks and strokes.

Symptoms of this disease include chest pain, weakness, pain in the arms, and shortness of breath. 

Heart Attack 

Probably the most common and well known on this list, a heart attack occurs when the flow of blood to the heart is cut off or severely reduced. This usually occurs due to the build-up of fat, cholesterol, or plaque. 

Chest pain, pain in the arms, shortness of breath, and feeling weak are all signs of a heart attack. It’s extremely important that if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms that you immediately call 911. 

Heart Failure 

When your heart’s pump is weaker than usual and causes blood to move slowly through your body, you’re experiencing heart failure. Symptoms include fatigue, inability to exercise, irregular heartbeat, persistent cough, shortness of breath, and swelling of your limbs. 

Peripheral Artery Disease 

This disease develops when the blood vessels outside the heart, also called the peripheral arteries, are clogged with fat, cholesterol, and plaque build-up. When this happens, the artery walls narrow, and the flow of blood to your tissues is restricted. This condition is another cause of kidney artery disease, stroke, and heart attack.

Symptoms include painful cramping, cold feet, sores that don’t heal, aching in the feet, leg numbness, and frequent infections. 

If you suspect you might be suffering from one of these major heart diseases, please visit your physician as soon as possible. In an emergency, please call 911 or visit your local emergency facility. Early detection is essential when it comes to heart diseases, which is why it’s important to regularly schedule physicals with your physician. You can schedule a visit with one of our physicians by clicking here or calling 770-463-4644. 

HIV & AIDS: Erasing Stigma by Embracing Education

The HIV/AIDS epidemic is considered one of the worst in our global history. In fact, there were approximately 38 million people around the world living with HIV/AIDS in 2019. Despite its massive impacts, there are still large amounts of misinformation and many damaging stigmas about HIV/AIDS within our society today. 

Debunking myths and sharing accurate information about these conditions is essential when fighting both the diseases themselves and the stigma surrounding them.

The Difference Between HIV and AIDS

What Is HIV?

HIV, which stands for “human immunodeficiency virus,” attacks a person’s immune system. More specifically, attacking the cells that fight against incoming infections. Meaning, anyone with this disease is much more vulnerable to other illnesses. It’s most commonly spread through bodily fluids, such as when someone has unprotected sex. 

Once a person contracts HIV, it’s with them for life. While it’s not curable, there are ways to help manage it. Approved medication and lifestyle choices allow people with HIV to live long and healthy lives with their loved ones. 

What Is AIDS?

AIDS is the last stage of HIV infection, in which the survival rate falls to about three years without proper medication. 

A person with HIV is considered to have AIDS when their blood cell count reaches a certain number (CD4 cells fall below 200 cells per cubic millimeter of blood) or if they contract one or more serious infections. 

The good news is that most people with HIV do not progress to AIDS if they are taking medication. That’s why it’s vital to get tested often, especially if you’re having unprotected sex. Knowing if you have HIV as early as possible leads to more successful management.

Stigma Surrounding HIV & AIDS

HIV is one of the world’s worst epidemics and diseases, and it also has negative stigmas surrounding it. This illness most commonly impacts people in LGTBQIA+ communities. At the time HIV first appeared in 1981, those people were not widely accepted and faced many unfair prejudices. 

When this epidemic broke out, those who were unaccepting of LGTBQIA+ communities spread false information and prejudices about the disease, some of which still prevails to this day. Unfortunately, those negative consequences impact those who do have HIV or AIDS, as this stigma can lead to many not receiving fair treatment or being too embarrassed to talk about their own experiences. 

That’s why education and the spread of correct information are so vital! If you’d like to learn more about the prejudices, read this resource about how to stand up to the stigma facing this disease

Do you have any further questions? While our health experts are always here to help, we recommend also visiting HIV.gov, a resource for education on this topic. As mentioned above, annual testing for HIV & AIDS is essential for lifelong management. At YourTown Health, we’re proud to offer testing to our patients. 

If you would like to speak to one of our physicians or schedule testing, click here to contact us or call 770-463-4644.

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