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Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular Disease - What it is

​Cardiovascular disease, also known as heart disease, is a range of conditions that affects the heart. It is the leading cause of death globally, with 17.9 million deaths each year. (Source: World Health Organization)

Cardiovascular Disease treatment

The types of cardiovascular disease include:

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Cardiovascular Disease - Symptoms

​The symptoms of cardiovascular disease varies, depending on the specific heart condition one has.

Symptoms of abnormal heart rhythm include:

  • A fast heartbeat
  • Pounding or fluttering chest sensations
  • Dizziness or fainting spells
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pains

Symptoms of blockage in the heart’s blood vessels include:

  • No symptoms – You may not have any symptoms although blood supply to your heart may be restricted.
  • Chest pain (angina) or a sensation of feeling a heavy weight on your chest.
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart attack – Caused by a blood clot or rupture in a narrowed coronary artery. Pain from a heart attack is often described as a crushing pain and may feel similar to an angina but lasts longer.

Symptoms of heart valve disease:

While heart valve disease often does not show any symptoms until the condition worsens, some of the general symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Sensations of a rapid, fluttering heartbeat (heart palpitations)
  • Chest discomfort or pain

Symptoms of heart failure or heart pumping difficulties include:

  • Shortness of breath at rest or on exertion
  • Difficulty in breathing when lying flat
  • Persistent coughing or wheezing
  • Waking up breathless at night with dry hacking cough
  • Swollen ankles, legs or abdomen
  • Palpitation (increased heart rate)

Cardiovascular Disease - How to prevent?

​While certain types of cardiovascular disease cannot be prevented, such as congenital heart disease, adopting to a healthy lifestyle can help reduce the risk of developing a heart disease.

  • Aerobic exercises such as brisk walking, jogging or swimming, is the best type of exercise for heart health. Walking is the safest form of exercise to start if you are uncertain of the level of intensity.
    • Healthy adults should ideally complete at least 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity exercise (e.g. brisk walk). Seek your doctor’s advice for suitable physical exercise tailored to your condition.
      o Inactive adults should start gradually, with light or moderate intensity at a shorter duration (less than 10 min), with sessions spread throughout the week.
    • Get 6 to 8 hours of sleep daily. Inadequate sleep of less than four hours or excess sleep more than 10 hours has been linked with increased risk of coronary artery disease.
  • Stop smoking, if you are smoking. Smoking contributes to atherosclerosis and increases the risk of heart attack. Many stop-smoking aids can improve your chances of success in trying to quit smoking. Speak to your doctor for help in quitting smoking.

  • Achieve and maintain a healthy BMI (Body Mass Index). Healthy range for Asians is from 18.5 to 22.9 kg/m2.

Cardiovascular Disease - Causes and Risk Factors


The causes of cardiovascular disease varies, depending on the specific heart condition one has.

Some of the common type of heart disease and its causes are:

Risk factors

An individual is more likely to develop cardiovascular disease if they have one or more of the following risk factors:

  • High blood pressure (also known as hypertension)
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Family history of heart disease
  • Smoking
  • Constant overconsumption of alcohol
  • Obesity or overweight
  • Physical inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle
  • Ageing or other chronic conditions

Cardiovascular Disease - Diagnosis

A typical diagnosis of heart disease starts from a physical examination and assessment of the patient’s medical history. Based on the findings of the assessment, the doctor may request for one or more selected cardiac diagnostic tests to be performed for the patient.

Some examples of additional diagnostic tests are:

Cardiovascular Disease - Treatments

​The type of treatment for cardiovascular disease varies and is based on specific diagnosis of the heart condition. In general, treatment for cardiovascular disease includes:

  • Lifestyle modifications: You can lower your risk of heart disease by up to 40% by following these 4 steps for a healthier lifestyle
    1. Stop smoking
    2. Take 2 servings of fruits and 3 servings of vegetables daily           
    3. Achieve and maintain a healthy BMI between 18.5 to 22.9 kg/m2
    4. Exercise at least 150 minutes a week (moderate intensity exercise)

  • Medications: Your doctor may prescribe medications to manage your heart condition. The type of medication prescribed is dependent on the cause of the heart disease and its severity.

  • Medical procedures or surgery: While many can manage heart disease through lifestyle modifications or medications, your doctor may recommend a specific heart procedure or surgery to treat or manage the heart condition. The type of procedure or surgery recommended will depend on the cause and extent of heart disease and the individual’s risk level and suitability for a procedure or surgery.

Cardiovascular Disease - Preparing for surgery

Cardiovascular Disease - Post-surgery care

Cardiovascular Disease - Other Information

​Watch our video guide on living with cardiovascular disease:

Living with Heart Disease - Guide for Your Daily Activities [Video]


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