Heart disease is a general term used to describe all kinds of conditions that affect the heart.
A heart attack is usually what comes to mind when people think of heart disease. However, there are a number of diseases that affect different parts of the heart and occur in different ways.
Some of the most common heart diseases are listed below:
Coronary Artery Disease
The heart is a muscular organ that pumps blood throughout the body. Like all other tissues in the body, the heart muscle needs oxygen-rich blood to function. The coronary arteries supply blood, containing oxygen and other nutrients, to the heart muscle.
Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common type of heart disease.
CAD happens when the coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle become hard and narrow. This is due to the buildup of cholesterol and other substances, called plaque, on their inner walls. This buildup is called atherosclerosis.
Over time, plaque buildup causes the inside of the coronary arteries to narrow, which reduces the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle. When the heart muscle does not receive enough blood and oxygen, chest pain (angina) or a heart attack can occur.
Angina is chest pain or discomfort you feel when your heart muscle does not get enough oxygen-rich blood. It is usually caused by coronary artery disease
Angina may feel like pressure or a squeezing pain in your chest. The pain may also occur in your shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or back. Angina is usually triggered by physical activity or stress and typically only lasts for a few minutes.
The most common cause of a heart attack is coronary artery disease (CAD). CAD occurs due to the buildup of cholesterol and other material, called plaque, on the inner walls of the coronary arteries.
Most heart attacks happen when a piece of this plaque ruptures (bursts). A blood clot forms at the site of the rupture. If the clot becomes large enough, it can completely block the flow of blood through the coronary artery.
If the flow of blood is not restored quickly, it can result in permanent damage or death of part of the heart muscle.
An arrhythmia is a change in the rhythm of your heartbeat. Your heart may beat too fast, or too slow, or with an irregular rhythm. This can impact how much blood your heart can pump.
Most arrhythmias are not harmful, but some can be serious or even life-threatening, especially if you have other heart problems.
Heart failure is a serious condition that develops slowly over time. Heart failure does not mean that your heart has stopped or is about to stop working. It means that your heart is not able to pump blood as well as it should.
A healthy heart can pump blood to all parts of the body. Heart failure occurs when the heart muscle becomes stiff or weak and cannot pump enough blood to meet the needs of the body. High blood pressure and coronary artery disease are common causes of heart failure.
Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle, causing the heart muscle to become enlarged, thick or rigid. As the condition worsens, over time, the heart becomes weaker, making it harder to pump blood throughout the body. This can lead to heart failure or irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias).
Heart Valve Disease
Your heart has four valves, which open and close to ensure that blood flows in the right direction through your heart and to the rest of your body.
When heart valves become diseased or damaged, they may not fully open or close. Blood can leak back through a valve in the wrong direction, or a valve may not open far enough and block blood flow. This can make your heart work harder and affect its ability to pump blood.
Birth defects, other heart conditions, and infections such as rheumatic fever or endocarditis can cause heart valve problems.
Congenital Heart Defects
Congenital heart defects are problems with the heart’s structure that are present since birth. These defects can involve the inside walls of the heart, the valves of the heart, and the arteries and veins near the heart. They can alter the way blood flows through the heart.
Congenital heart defects can vary from simple (such as a small hole in the heart) to complex (such as missing or poorly formed parts of the heart).
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