What is Heart Disease?

Cardiovascular disease is a very broad term. Cardiovascular disease refers to diseases of the heart (cardio) and diseases of the blood vessels (vascular), hence cardio-vascular disease. However, diseases affecting the heart are referred to as heart disease.

The term heart disease is a very broad term. Problems can arise within the heart muscle,Guest Posting arteries supplying blood to the heart muscle, or the valves within the heart that pump blood in the correct direction. Understanding the differences between each disease of the heart can help with the confusing applications of the term heart disease.

Coronary artery disease or CAD is the most common type of heart disease and the leading cause of death in both genders in the U.S. Coronary artery disease affects the arteries supplying blood to the heart muscle. These coronary arteries harden and narrow due to the buildup of a waxy cholesterol, fatty substance referred to as plaque.

This plaque buildup is known as atherosclerosis. The increase in plaque buildup causes the coronary arteries to become narrower. This will cause blood flow to become restricted, decreasing the amount of oxygen delivered to the heart muscle. Decreasing the amount of oxygen supplied to the heart muscle can cause angina (chest pain) and lead to a heart attack. Coronary artery disease over time can weaken the heart muscle contributing to heart failure and arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms).

Coronary heart disease is another confusing type of heart disease. Coronary heart disease is not the same thing as coronary artery disease. While coronary artery disease refers to the coronary arteries, coronary heart disease refers to the diseases of the coronary arteries and resulting complications. This includes such complications such as chest pain, a heart attack, and the scar tissue caused by the heart attack. Understanding this subtle difference between the two may impress your cardiologist.

Cardiomyopathy is a disease affecting the muscle of the heart. Cardiomyopathy can be genetic or caused by a viral infection. Cardiomyopathy can be classified as primary or secondary. Primary cardiomyopathy is attributed to a specific cause (hypertension, congenital heart defects, heart valve disease). Secondary cardiomyopathy is attributed to specific causes (diseases affecting other organs).

There are three main types of cardiomyopathy. Dilated cardiomyopathy is enlargement and stretching of the cardiac muscle. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy causes thickening of the heart muscle. Restrictive cardiomyopathy causes the ventricles of the heart to become excessively rigid causing blood flow to the ventricles to be difficult between heartbeats.

Valvular heart disease is a disease that affects the valves of the heart. Valves within the heart keep the blood flowing in the correct direction. Damage to valves can be caused by a variety of conditions leading to regurgitation or insufficiency (leaking valve), prolapse (improper closing of the valve), or stenosis (narrowing of the valve). Valvular heart disease can be genetic. Valvular heart disease can also be caused by certain infections such as rheumatic fever, and certain medications or radiation treatments for cancer.

The pericardium is a sac that encompasses the heart. Pericardial disease is inflammation (pericarditis), stiffness (constrictive pericarditis), or fluid accumulation (pericardial effusion) of the pericardium. Pericardial disease can be caused by many things such as occurring after a heart attack.

Congenital heart disease is a form of heart disease that develops before birth. Congenital heart disease is an extremely broad term. However, these diseases usually affect the formation of the heart muscle, chambers, or valves. A few examples include coarctation or a narrowing of a section of the aorta; atrial or ventricular septal defect is referred to as holes in the heart. Congenital heart disease should be classified more accurately as an inborn defect that occurs in around 1% of births. Congenital heart disease may be inherited (heredity), or caused by certain infections such as German measles contracted while pregnant. However, researchers are currently studying factors that may cause congenital heart disease.

Heart failure is another type of heart disease characterized by the heart’s inability to effectively pump enough blood to the body’s organs and tissues. When the body’s vital organs do not receive enough blood flow certain signs and symptoms can occur such as shortness of breath, fatigue, and fluid retention. Congestive heart failure is a type of heart failure that leads to fluid buildup in the body. It is important to note that not all heart failure is congestive. Heart failure may result from other cardiovascular diseases such as cardiomyopathy or coronary heart disease. Heart failure may come on suddenly or develop over many years.

The month of February is the National Heart Disease awareness month. However, heart disease awareness should be each and every day. With staggering statistics, awareness begins with understanding the different types of heart disease. A diet and lifestyle that is conducive to heart health can mean the difference between life and being a statistic.

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The Basic Facts About Heart Disease – What Is It and What are the Risk Factors?

Heart diseases are also called cardiac diseases. Individuals of all ages can develop heart diseases. The most common form of heart disease in adults is coronary artery disease, which is the major cause of heart attacks.

Heart diseases are also called cardiac diseases. Individuals of all ages can develop heart diseases. The most common form of heart disease in adults is coronary artery disease,Guest Posting which is the major cause of heart attacks and the most common form of heart disease in children, is congenital heart disease.

Heart disease can affect the heart muscle, the heart vessels, heart tissue or the heart valves. Heart disease can be caused by smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, infection, and toxins or from a birth defect. Some people are born with heart disease and most develop heart disease over time.

There are certain factors that put certain people at risk for heart disease such as individuals who have a family history of heart disease, those who smoke, and those who have high blood pressure or high blood cholesterol. Individual who are obese or lead inactive lives are also at an increased risk for heart disease. Age increases your risk for heart disease. Some of the risk factors such as family history and age cannot be controlled.

Heart disease present at birth can usually not be controlled if it is heredity in nature. Factors such as smoking, blood pressure and blood cholesterol and controlling diseases such as diabetes that when uncontrolled can lead to heart disease. You can reduce your risk for heart disease by controlling your blood pressure and blood cholesterol, by not smoking, and by getting enough exercise and eating healthy foods.

If an individual suspects heart disease due to having symptoms such as chest pain or discomfort, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, dizziness or a feeling that something bad is going to happen they should contact their doctor for an exam and diagnosis. Doctors are trained and have the skills to make the diagnosis of heart disease. You will first be asked to fill out a medical history form that will list your general health, and your symptoms as well as any family history. During the examination your vital signs will be taken including your blood pressure, weight, height, pulse, respiratory rate and temperature.

The doctor will give you a complete examination to rule out any other diseases. You may be sent to a laboratory for blood tests and to the x-ray department for a chest x-ray. Your doctor will be evaluating your risk for heart disease and any sign of present heart disease. You may also be sent for an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG), which will reveal any arrhythmias or irregular heart rhythms.

You may then be sent for special tests such as an exercise electrocardiogram, a fluoroscopy, phonocardiography, echocardiography, or an angiocardiography (cardiac catheterization). Your doctor will then put all the test results together and determine if you have heart disease or are at risk for heart disease.

Risk factors for heart disease are high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, the presence of diabetes, and smoking. These are the highest risk factors. Other factors are age, family history, and being obese and having an inactive lifestyle as well as stress. These last factors are considered minor risk factors.

After your doctor review your test results and determines your heart health and your risk factors for heart disease the doctor will give you a diagnosis or tell you what you can do to decrease your risk for heart disease.

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