Is heart disease contagious?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you can contract the condition if you have an open sore or scratch on your skin.

If you have a heart condition, you can get the virus by having close contact with someone who has the condition.

Having a sore or scratch on your skin doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a heart condition, though.

What causes a heart attack?

Heart attacks are typically caused by coronary artery disease, which is the narrowing of the arteries.

Coronary artery disease occurs when fatty deposits build up in the arteries. This can cause the arteries to become narrow, limiting the amount of oxygen and nutrients that can be delivered to your heart.

Coronary artery disease can be hereditary or triggered by high blood pressure.

Symptoms of heart disease

Heart disease can cause many symptoms, many of which are nonspecific.

  • Chest pain, or angina
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Pain when you cough
  • Heartburn
  • Sweating
  • Headaches
  • Indigestion

These symptoms can indicate a heart attack. However, they can also be signs of a heart condition.

Heart disease can cause symptoms that mimic a heart attack. You may also experience them without any warning.

According to the CDC, the symptoms of a heart attack may include:

  • Severe chest pain that lasts longer than 30 seconds
  • Pain that radiates to your jaw, shoulder, or back
  • Nausea or pain in your upper stomach
  • Lightheadedness
  • Weakness
  • Cold sweats
  • Jaw ache

Heart attacks are typically fatal, but you may survive a heart attack if you receive immediate emergency medical treatment.

Diagnosing heart disease

If you experience chest pain, you should seek medical attention right away.

You should also seek medical attention if you begin to experience symptoms of heart disease, such as:

  • Fatigued
  • Weak
  • Dizziness
  • Chest pain
  • Pain in your upper chest

Your doctor can order one or more tests to diagnose a heart condition. These tests can include:

  • Electrocardiogram (EKG). This test measures the electrical activity in your heart.
  • Echocardiogram. This test uses a machine called a transducer to produce images of your heart.
  • Stress testing. During this test, you’ll exercise on a treadmill or bicycle to see how your heart responds to stress.

Heart disease treatment

Treatment for heart disease depends on the stage of the condition.

If you have a heart attack, immediate emergency medical attention is crucial.

If you have a heart condition, your doctor will likely start with medication. These medications can help reduce inflammation and constriction of the arteries.

If your condition doesn’t improve with medication, you may need additional procedures, such as a stent or bypass.

If you’re pregnant, you should also avoid any medication.

Heart disease prevention

Heart disease can be prevented by making certain lifestyle changes.

These changes include:

  • Eating a healthy diet. A healthy diet ensures that you’re getting a variety of nutrients, including those that are necessary for heart health.
  • Exercise regularly. Regular exercise is a crucial part of a healthy life. Exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • Quit smoking. People whose smoking increases the risk of heart disease should quit.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. A healthy weight not only helps you eat a healthy diet, but it also helps to lower your risk of heart disease.

What is a heart failure?

Heart failure is when there’s a failure of the heart to pump enough blood to the rest of the body.

Heart failure can be caused by any of the following:

  • Coronary artery disease
  • Heart valve disease
  • Hypertension
  • A heart attack
  • Heart failure after a heart transplant
  • Heart failure that develops during pregnancy

Heart failure can be fatal.

Some people with heart failure may not experience any symptoms. Others may have symptoms that are similar to those of a heart attack.

If you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical attention right away.

Treatment for heart failure

The treatment for heart failure will depend on the cause.

If you have coronary artery disease, you may receive medication to reduce your risk of a heart attack.

In some cases, you may need additional procedures, such as a coronary artery bypass graft (CABG).

If your condition is caused by a heart valve disease, you may need a valve replacement.

You may also require a procedure known as cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT). CRT works by altering your heart rate.

Hypertension can be managed with medications, such as beta-blockers and ACE inhibitors.

Heart attack

A heart attack is a medical emergency. You may receive emergency medical treatment.

If you’ve had a heart attack, you may need to take medications to reduce your risk of another one. These medications include:

  • Aspirin
  • Clopidogrel (Plavix)
  • Prasugrel (Effient)
  • Ticagrelor (Brilinta)

Heart disease can also cause heart failure. However, most people with heart failure aren’t diagnosed until they’ve experienced multiple symptoms.

Some people with heart failure may have to adjust their diet, exercise more, or take medications to manage their condition.

Heart surgery

If you’ve had a heart attack or have heart disease, your doctor may recommend heart surgery. If you need heart surgery, it’s generally a last resort.

The goal of heart surgery is to improve your heart’s pumping function and decrease your risk of a heart attack.

Heart surgery can be done on people with coronary artery disease or those who’ve had a heart attack. The procedure may also be used to treat other heart conditions, such as heart valve disease.

Heart surgery can be done with a:

  • Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG). This procedure uses blood vessels from other parts of the body to reroute blood flow around the blocked arteries in your heart.
  • Heart valve replacement. If you’ve had a damaged heart valve, your doctor may remove the damaged portion of the valve and replace it with a new valve.

In addition to the risks of heart surgery, you may also experience:

  • Post-operative infection. You may experience bleeding and other complications after surgery.
  • Heart failure. People who have heart surgery can develop heart failure.
  • Infection. You may have infections after surgery, including pneumonia.
  • Blood clots. Blood clots in the legs or lungs are a risk of heart surgery.

Recovering from heart surgery

Recovering from heart surgery depends on the type of surgery that was performed.

If your doctor performed a CABG, you may need to stay at the hospital for several days. In addition, you may need to take antibiotics for a few days.

After a heart valve replacement, you may need to take medications for several days.

If you had a heart valve repair, you may need to take antibiotics for several weeks.

You may also need to take anti-inflammatory medications for several months.

The takeaway

Heart disease is a condition that can develop when you have a heart attack or some other type of heart attack.

Heart disease involves a buildup of plaque in the arteries. If you don’t take steps to manage your risk factors, you may develop heart disease, as well as its complications.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in people with diabetes.

If you start to experience heart attack symptoms, seek medical attention right away. If you don’t get medical treatment, you may still experience a heart attack.

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