Heart: Diseases, causes, symptoms and the best ways to have a healthy heart

Want to know the best ways to maintain a healthy heart? This article provides details about heart diseases, the major symptoms and ways to treat them. You will also know about healthy eating habits which are good for the heart.


Heart diseases are the main killer diseases in India. Heart diseases affect both men and women, rich and poor, young and the old. In the past decade, cardiovascular diseases have increased rapidly and more number of people are succumbing to heart diseases and strokes. WHO reports that cardiovascular diseases are the main causes of death and disability. India ranks at the top of heart diseases. In India every minute, four people die in the age group of 30 and 50. The fast-changing lifestyles have resulted in unhealthy habits making our bodies prone to many diseases. The hospitals are seeing more of the younger generation going for treatments with cardiac problems. Due to high-pressure lives, taking care of the heart is very essential for normal living. Heart problems can be avoided by following simple and effective rules. Prevention is always the best cure.

Heart Health - Stethoscope : Source pixabay

World Heart Day

The World heart day is observed worldwide by the World heart foundation organization. It's an international campaign held on 29th September to create awareness among the people about cardiovascular diseases. The day promotes preventive measures to reduce the risks of heart diseases. The awareness program includes health check-ups, exhibitions, stages shows, sports events, runs, walks, science forums, screenings, concerts and public talks.

Heart Structure; Source: pixabay

Structure of the Heart

The heart of a man is conical and is situated obliquely, a little towards the left in the thoracic cavity between the lungs. The weight of the human organ is about 340 grams. The heart is only the size of your own fist. It is a muscular pumping organ. A double-layered sac called pericardium encloses the heart. Pericardial fluid is present between the layers and protects the heart from mechanical shocks and friction. The heart consists of four chambers, the upper two auricles and two lower ventricles. The septum separates the left and right parts. Tricuspid and bicuspid valves are present between auricles and ventricles. These valves prevent the backflow of the blood from ventricles to auricles. Deoxygenated blood is brought from different parts of the body by superior and inferior vena cava into the right auricle. Oxygenated blood from the lungs is brought by pulmonary veins into the left auricle. Aorta carries oxygenated blood to all parts of the body. The pulmonary artery carries the deoxygenated blood to the lungs.

Functions of the heart

The cardiac muscles contract and relax rhythmically to create pressure to maintain the blood flow throughout the body. Contraction and relaxation of the auricles and ventricles contract and relax at the same time. Deoxygenated blood from the inferior and superior vena cava flows into the right auricle. Oxygenated blood from pulmonary veins flows into the left auricle. When auricles contract, deoxygenated blood flows from the right auricle to the right ventricle and oxygenated blood flows from the left auricle to the left ventricle through the tricuspid and bicuspid valves. When the ventricles contract, deoxygenated blood from the right ventricle flows into the pulmonary artery, oxygenated blood from the left ventricle flows into the aorta. The semilunar valves prevent the backflow of the blood.

Blood circulation

Double CirculationBlood flows through heart twice to complete one circulation in the body and it's called double circulation. It happens in two ways:
Pulmonary circulation: It is the route taken by the blood between the heart and the lungs.
Systemic circulation: It is the route taken by the blood between the heart and the tissues of the body.
Heart beat The contraction of the heart muscles is called systole and the relaxation of the heart muscles is called diastole. One systole and one diastole together form one heartbeat. The two sounds of the heartbeat are heard as 'LUBB and DUP'. Heartbeats about 72 times per minute in a healthy individual. It's measured by an instrument, stethoscope
Blood pressure When left ventricle contracts the blood gets pumped into the aorta and then through its branches. The pressure exerted on the walls of the arteries is known as blood pressure. The blood pressure in a healthy individual is in the range of 120/80mm Hg
PulseThe wave-like movement of the blood in the walls of the arteries is known as pulse. Pulse is felt at the wrist below the thumb.

Causes for heart diseases

  • Smoking and over consumption of alcohol

  • Lack of physical activity, improper eating habits, obesity

  • Tension, stress, anxiety, depression, hypertension

  • Excess anger and excitement

  • Type 2 diabetes

  • High blood pressure

  • Hereditary or inherited heart conditions

  • High levels of cholesterol

  • Cardiac diseases

    Cardiac arrhythmias

    These are concerned with abnormalities in rhythm of the heart. The heart beats are very fast or very slow. The heart beats in an abnormal rhythm. Arrhythmias are different types, some are harmless but some are dangerous to life.


    These are diseases that affect the muscles of the heart. People of all ages are affected by this disease. These diseases are usually inherited. Here the heart becomes enlarged, thick or rigid. The pumping of the heart gets disturbed due to the inability of the heart to pump blood.

    Heart failure

    It is the most serious condition wherein the heart loses its ability to pump blood efficiently throughout the body. The heart fails to pump blood that's required for the body's need. This may happen due to damage to the heart muscle, from a viral infection due to excess consumption of alcohol. Other triggers are high blood pressure, heart valve disease or anaemia.

    Cardiac arrest /Heart attack

    This happens when heart stops pumping blood. Heart attacks occur when there is a blood clot or blockage in an artery. An attack causes severe pain in the centre of the chest and may last for hours. The rhythm of the heart becomes disturbed and the patient may lose consciousness and stop breathing. Silent heart attacks can happen without any pain associated. A health checkup/ electrocardiogram can detect this condition. It is corrected by by-pass surgery or angioplasty.

    Congenital heart

    These diseases are present at birth and the problems are related to heart structure and function. A hole in the septum allows blood from the left auricle to the right auricle. This results in fatigue and respiratory infections. This condition inhibits growth in children. Blue baby is also a congenital defect. A baby with bluish complexion due to insufficiently oxygenated blood in systemic circulation results in a blue baby. This condition is rectified by surgery.

    Heart valve disease

    When the valves in the heart don't work properly it results in strain on the heart. The heart does not work properly if there is an abnormal narrowing of the valves, the heart has to work hard to pump the blood through the narrow valves. This leads to heart-pumping less blood to the body parts and this defect results in heart failure.

    Enlargement of heart chambers

    This condition may result due to dilation of cavities or thickening of chamber walls resulting in the improper circulation of blood in the body.

    Coronary disease (Ischemic heart disease)

    It is one of the most common types of heart disease leading to death. The obstructing of blood supply to the heart muscle due to the building of plaque inside the blood vessels in the heart causes coronary disease.

    CPR (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation)

    It is needed immediately for cardiac arrest to make the person survive. CPR involves pumping the chest to make the blood flow from the heart to the body. Mouth to mouth resuscitation is to be done to put air into the lungs.

    Symptoms of heart attack

  • Nausea, vomiting, dizziness, breathlessness, numbness, heart burn

  • An increased / rapid heartbeat, restlessness, nervousness and fatigue

  • Profuse sweating for no reason

  • Heavy pressure on the chest, discomfort, squeezing or wringing sensation

  • Continuous/persistent pain felt for 15-20 minutes on the chest that does not go away

  • Crushing pain that is felt in the chest, that extends to the neck, jaw, back shoulder, arms

  • Pain and swelling in legs and foot

  • Diagnostic tests for cardiac problems

  • Cardiac Enzyme Testing

  • Echocardiography

  • Electrocardiograms (ECG)

  • Holter monitoring

  • Diagnostic vascular imaging

  • Exercise (treadmill) stress testing

  • Treatments for cardiac diseases

  • Implantation of pacemaker device and cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) is done to regulate heart rhythms. Open heart surgeries are done for cardiomyopathies and restrictive conditions of the heart

  • Angioplasty is most best and successful treatment for heart attacks. The procedure involves in removing the blocks in the arteries to restore the blood flow

  • Heart surgeries are done for correction of congenital heart defects. Valve replacement and repairs are done to correct the defects

  • First Aid for a person with heart problems

  • The person should be made o sit down, rest, and make his calm
  • Loosen the clothing of the patient

  • Find out if the person is on medication, any chest pain medicine is taken, Help them to take it. Call for the ambulance immediately

  • Call for emergency medical help f the pain does not go away, if the person is unconscious or not responding

  • See that the person is not left alone

  • A person interested in saving a life can learn resuscitation techniques and give first aid to restart a heart that's stopped while seeking for emergency medical help

  • Obesity : Source pixabay

    Best ways to keep Heart Healthy

  • Plan for a healthy proper diet, eat nutritious wholesome food

  • Avoid saturated fats, butter cakes etc. Cut down the intake of salt and add flavoured herbs and spices

  • Exercise regularly for half- an- hour at least 5 days a week to reduce heart risk

  • Control your weight to keep heart healthy to stay within the recommended limits for your height

  • Emotional stress and tension affects heart working. Practising yoga and meditation helps in controlling anxiety, tension and stress

  • One should keep away from smoking and drugs as they cause hypertension and affects the functioning of the heart

  • Consume alcohol in the recommended quantity and do not exceed the limits

  • Be aware of the risk factors if any of your family members have a history of heart disease and take care to avoid it

  • Check blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol periodically with your doctor and take advice

  • Obesity and diabetes mellitus are factors that are to be taken care of

  • Tensions and stress affects the heart functioning and results in heart problems. Practising yoga and mediations helps in reducing the heart risks

  • Electro Cardio Graph (ECG)

    ECG is a simple painless test. It detects all the hearts electrical activity and records it. An ECG shows how fast hart beats and the rhythm of the heartbeats. It shows the strength of timing of electrical impulses passing through the heart parts. An ECG poses no risks.

    Best ways of healthy eating habits for heart

  • For healthy heart include green vegetables, fruits and vegetables soups in your diet

  • Garlic is very good for heart, chewing 2-3 pods daily gives relief for heart patients

  • Drinking pomegranate juice morning and evening helps in reducing rapid heart beats

  • High fat content food products like ghee, oil, butter, and non-vegetarian products should be taken in measured quantities. Drinking coffee and tea to be limited

  • Avoid ice-cream, potato chips, milkshakes, canned fruit in a heavy syrup, oils high in saturated fats such as coconut and palm oil

  • Eat less sodium salt to reduce the risk of blood pressure that leads to the risk of heart attacks and strokes

  • Add herbs, black pepper and ginger instead of adding salts

  • Conclusion

    When one is diagnosed with heart disease; it's difficult to deal with it becomes stressful and upsets one's life. Making necessary changes in lifestyles makes a difference and leads to a steady and speedy recovery. The advanced medical technologies in medication and surgeries have helped the patients to lead a happy and full life. Be positive and be bold to face the situations. Consult the doctors/specialists before taking any measures or self medications. Check with your doctor regularly, seek advice and act accordingly. "Take care of your heart for a healthy living"


    This information is prepared after researching several medical journals. Care has been taken to check the information. The information contained in this article is not to be used for treatment purpose or for diagnosis of health issues. Please consult your doctors for health-related problems or queries that you may have.

    For further reading on keeping body healthy
    1.How yoga benefits your body for healthy and happy living


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