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Heart & Cardiovascular Disease

Heart disease is a general term that encompasses a variety of medical issues related to the Heart and Cardiovascular System. The cardiovascular system & the consists of the heart, & the blood vessels of the body called arteries, veins, and capillaries. The term "cardiovascular disease" is often used interchangeably with heart disease. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S.

Types of Cardiovascular Disease

Coronary artery disease

Coronary Artery Disease is the most common form of form of cardiovascular disease. It generally means that blood flow through the coronary arteries has become restricted, because of "clogged" arteries, reducing blood flow to the heart muscle. The most common cause of our arteries becoming "clogged" is atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is caused by the slow buildup of plaque on the inside of walls of the arteries. The plaque is made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances found in the blood. Because, the heart needs an adequate blood flow to keep it alive and working, coronary artery disease can lead to other heart problems.

Abnormal heart rhythms or arrythmias

An irregular heartbeat is called an arrythmias or a dysrhythmia. With an arrythmias, the heart rate may be abnormal as well. A normal heart rate is 50 to 100 beats per minute. The normal rhythm of the heart is the familiar "lub dub, lub dub, lub dub". If you had an arrythmia, your heart might sound something like "lub-a-dub, lub-a-dub". There are many things that can cause an abnormal heart rhythm (arrythmia) but arrythmias can also occur in "normal, healthy" hearts. Some things that can cause abnormal heart rhythms include: Electrolyte imbalances, injury to the heart or from a heart attack, coronary artery disease, infection of the heart, and changes in your heart muscle.

Heart Valve Disease

Your heart has valves at the exit of each of your four heart chambers. These valves keep the blood flowing through your heart freely in a forward direction, making sure that there is no backward flow of blood. Your heart sends the blood to your lungs, where it gets oxygen, and then to the rest of your body and back to the heart again. Valve disease can develop before birth or at any time during your life. There are several types of valve disease but they can basically fit into one of the following types:

- Congenital valve disease - this is a type of valve disease that happens before birth. he valves are basically not formed correctly.

- Acquired valve disease - this occurs when something happens to valves that were once normal. This can happen due to infection or diseases such as endocarditis or rheumatic fever.

- Mitral valve prolapse (MVP) - this causes the flaps of the mitral valve to flop back into the left atrium during the heart's contraction. MVP also causes the tissues of the valve to become weaker and stretchy, causing the valve to leak. MVP rarely causes symptoms and usually doesn't require treatment.

Heart Muscle Disease (Cardiomyopathy)

Heart muscle disease, also known as cardiomyopathy, directly affects the heart muscle. It's a type of progressive heart disease in which the heart is abnormally enlarged, thickened and/or stiffened. Because of this, the heart muscle's ability to pump blood is weakened. It often causes blood to backup into the lungs or rest of the body and can cause Heart Failure.

Heart Failure

Heart failure does not mean the heart has failed or stopped working. It means that the heart is weakened and is not pumping blood as well as it should. The blood moves through the heart and body at a slower rate, causing pressure to increase within the heart. This causes fluid to build up throughout the body. Fluid will begin to pool in the legs, feet, arms, and eventually the lungs and other organs of the body. This is known as congestive heart failure. Heart failure is caused by any of a number of conditions that damage the heart. Some include those we discussed above like coronary artery disease & valve disease. Heart failure can also be cause by high blood pressure, thyroid disease, kidney disease & diabetes, which are all conditions that overwork the heart.

Congenital Heart Disease

Congenital heart disease is a defect that happens to the heart before birth. The defect happens while the baby is forming. They occur in about 1 percent of of live births. In most cases scientists don't know why they occur. The use of certain medications, illegal drugs, and alcohol use can increase the risk of having a baby with a heart defect. Most heart defects either obstruct blood flow in the heart or vessels near it, or cause blood to flow through the heart in an abnormal pattern. Sometimes there are defects in the walls between the atria and ventricles of the heart. These defects allow oxygenated and unoxygenated blood between the right and left sides of the heart to mix. Another rare defect occurs when the right or left side of the heart is incompletely formed.

Aortic disease

Aortic Disease affects the Aorta. The aorta is your largest artery and is responsible for carrying blood from your heart to the rest of your body. One form of aortic disease, known as a dissection, is a tear in the wall of the aorta. There is also an aortic aneurysm. An aneurysm is an abnormal bulge in the wall of an artery. This can happen because of a weakened spot in the wall of the artery. Aneurysms can form in any blood vessel, but they occur most commonly in the aorta. Small aneurysms generally pose no threat. If the aneurysm increases in size, it can put pressure on surrounding organs or even rupture. If an aortic aneurysm ruptures, it's a life-threatening event.

Pericardial Disease (Pericarditis)

Pericardial disease, also known as pericarditis, is inflammation of the pericardium. The pericardium is a protective lining (or sac) that surrounds the heart. It has an thin inner layer, a middle layer of fluid, and an outer, more fibrous layer. Pericarditis can involve any one of these layers. The inflammation can be caused by infection, trauma, cancer, surgery or Autoimmune diseases (such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or scleroderma). Treatment includes antibiotics (if infection is the cause), Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs), and steroids (occasionally for severe attacks). Most people recover in 2-4 weeks.

Peripheral Vascular Disease (blood vessel disease)

Peripheral Vascular disease includes any condition that affects the blood vessels or circulatory system. These conditions affect vessels outside of the heart and brain. It can include conditions that affect your arteries, veins or lymph vessels, as well as blood disorders that affect circulation.

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DISCLAIMER: The information on this website should NOT be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The information provided here is for educational and informational purposes only. In no way should it be considered as offering medical advice. Please contact your doctor or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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