You are currently viewing Heart disease: Things you need to know

Heart disease: Things you need to know

Heart disease is a term which covers any heart condition.

Unlike cardiovascular disease, which explains problems with both the blood vessels and the circulatory system and the cardiac, heart disease refers to heart defects and deformities.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the UK, the United States, Canada and Australia, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). One in every four deaths resulting from heart disease occurs in the U.S.

Fast facts on heart disease

  • One in every four deaths in the U.S. is related to heart disease.
  • Coronary heart disease, arrhythmia, and myocardial infarction are some examples of heart disease.
  • Heart disease might be treated with medication or surgery.
  • Quitting smoking and exercising regularly can help prevent heart disease.


There are many different types of heart disease.
There are many different types of heart disease.

There are several forms of heart disease that affect and occur in various ways, different parts of the organ.

Congenital heart disease

This is a general term for other heart deformities which have existed since birth. Examples may include:

  • Septal defects: There is a hole between the two chambers of the heart.
  • Obstruction defects: The flow of blood through various chambers of the heart is partially or totally blocked.
  • Cyanotic heart disease: A defect in the heart causes a shortage of oxygen around the body.


Arrhythmia is heart beat abnormal.

There are several ways a heartbeat can lose its normal rhythm. Including:

  • tachycardia, when the heart beats too fast
  • bradycardia, when the heart beats too slowly
  • premature ventricular contractions, or additional, abnormal beats
  • fibrillation, when the heartbeat is irregular

Arrhythmias occur when the heart’s electrical impulses which control the heartbeat are not working properly. If it is too fast, too slowly, or too erratically, these make the heart beat in a way it shouldn’t.

Irregular heartbeats are normal, and are felt by all people. They look like a heart flapping or a heart speeding. Nonetheless, they need to be taken more seriously and handled when they change too much or happen because of a broken or weak heart.

Arrhythmias can turn fatal.

Coronary artery disease

By circulating blood, the coronary arteries supply nutrients and oxygen to the heart muscle.

Coronary arteries can become diseased or damaged, usually due to cholesterol containing plaque deposits. Plaque accumulation narrows the coronary arteries and this contributes less oxygen and nutrients to the skin.

Dilated cardiomyopathy

As a result of cardiac muscle weakness, the cardiac chambers are dilated and can not adequately pump the blood. The most common cause for this is that due to coronary artery disease, not enough oxygen enters the heart muscle. This affects the left ventricle generally.

Myocardial infarction

Also known as heart attack, cardiac failure and coronary thrombosis. The irregular blood flow causes damage or injury of part of the heart muscle. This is typically caused by a clot of blood which develops in one of the coronary arteries and can also occur when an artery suddenly narrows or spasms.

Heart failure

Known also as congestive heart failure, heart failure occurs when the heart is not properly pumping blood throughout the body.

Might affect the left or right side of the heart. Rarely are they both sides. Coronary artery disease or high blood pressure may, over time, leave the heart too stiff or sluggish to properly fill and pump.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

This is a genetic disorder in which the left ventricle wall thickens and makes it more difficult for blood to be pumped out of the heart. That is the leading cause of athlete sudden death. A parent with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy has a 50% chance to pass the condition on to their kids.

Mitral regurgitation

Often known as mitral valve regurgitation, mitral insufficiency, or mitral incompetence, this happens when the heart’s mitral valve is not near sufficiently tightly. This helps blood to flow back into the heart as soon as it can go. As a consequence, blood can’t travel effectively through the heart or body.

Individuals with this form of heart attack frequently feel fatigued and breathless.

Mitral valve prolapse

The valve between left atrium and left ventricle doesn’t close completely, it booms upward or back into the atrium. The condition isn’t life-threatening in most cases, and no care is required. Some people may need care, particularly if the condition is marked with mitral regurgitation.

Pulmonary stenosis

Pumping blood from the right ventricle into the pulmonary artery is difficult for the heart, since the pulmonary valve is too close. To clear the obstruction the right ventricle needs to work harder. An infant suffering from severe stenosis can turn blue. Older kids usually do not have any signs.

If the pressure in the right ventricle is too high, treatment is needed, and a balloon valvuloplasty or open-heart surgery can be done to remove an obstruction.


The symptoms of heart disease depend on which condition is affecting an individual.

However, common symptoms include chest pain, breathlessness, and heart palpitations. The chest pain common to many types of heart disease is known as angina, or angina pectoris, and occurs when a part of the heart does not receive enough oxygen.

Angina can be triggered by stressful events or physical exertion and normally lasts under 10 minutes.

Heart attacks can also occur as a result of different types of heart disease. The signs of a heart attack are similar to angina except that they can occur during rest and tend to be more severe.

Sometimes, the symptoms of a heart attack can mimic indigestion. There could be heartburn and a stomach ache, as well as a heavy chest feeling.

Other signs include a heart attack:

  • pain that travels through the body, for example from the chest to the arms, neck, back, abdomen, or jaw
  • lightheadedness and dizzy sensations
  • profuse sweating
  • nausea and vomiting

Heart failure is often the product of heart disease, and breathlessness can occur when blood circulates too weakly in the heart.

There are some heart problems that do not show symptoms at all, particularly in older adults and people with diabetes.

A number of disorders are defined by the word ‘congenital heart disease,’ but the main symptoms include:

  • sweating
  • high levels of fatigue
  • fast heartbeat and breathing
  • breathlessness
  • chest pain
  • a blue tint to the skin
  • clubbed fingernails

Symptoms can develop in severe cases from birth. Such signs may not develop, however, until a person is older than 13 years.


Heart disease is caused by heart damage to all or part of the heart, coronary artery damage or inadequate nutritional and oxygen supply to the organ.

Some forms of heart disease are inherited, for example hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. These may occur before a person is born, alongside congenital heart defects.

There are a variety of options of lifestyle which can raise the risk of heart disease. Including:

  • high blood pressure and cholesterol
  • smoking
  • overweight and obesity
  • diabetes
  • family history
  • a diet of junk food
  • age
  • a history of preeclampsia during pregnancy
  • staying in a stationary position for extended periods of time, such as sitting at work

Holding all of those risk factors raises the risk of heart disease considerably. Others are unavoidable, as in generation. For example, the heart attack is more likely after a woman reaches 55 years of age.


There are two main types of heart disease diagnosis. Initially, a person can seek medication to treat the heart condition. If these do not have the desired result, there are surgical procedures available to help fix the problem.


There is a very wide variety of medicines available for most heart disorders. Most are used to avoid clots in the blood, but others have other ends.

The main medications in use are:

  • statins, for lowering cholesterol
  • blood thinners, such as warfarin, for preventing blood clots
  • beta-blockers, for treating heart attack, heart failure, and high blood pressure
  • angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, for heart failure and high blood pressure

Your health care provider will consult with you to find a safe and appropriate drug. They can also use drugs until they become troublesome to treat underlying disorders that may affect the heart, such as diabetes.


Heart surgery
Heart surgery is an option for people with heart disease, but it can be debilitating.

Cardiac surgery is an intensive option from which recovery can take a long time.

However, they may be effective in treating blockages and heart problems for which medicines, particularly in the advanced stages of heart disease, do not function.

The most common surgical procedures include:

  • angioplasty, in which a balloon catheter is inserted to widen narrowed blood vessels that might be restricting blood flow to the heart
  • coronary artery bypass surgery, which allows blood flow to reach a blocked part of the heart in people with blocked arteries
  • surgery to repair or replace faulty heart valves
  • pacemakers, or electronic machines that regulate a heartbeat for people with arrhythmia

A further alternative is heart transplants. However, finding a suitable heart of the right size and form of blood in the appropriate time is always hard. Individuals are put on a donor organs waiting list, which may often wait years.


There are other forms of heart disease that can not be avoided, such as those present from birth.

However, certain styles can be avoided by taking the following measures:

  • Eat a balanced diet. Stick to low-fat, high-fiber foods and be sure to consume five portions of fresh fruit and vegetables each day. Increase your intake of whole grains and reduce the amount of salt and sugar in the diet. Make sure the fats in the diet are mostly unsaturated.
  • Exercise regularly. This will strengthen the heart and circulatory system, reduce cholesterol, and maintain blood pressure.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight for your height.
  • If you smoke, quit. Smoking is a major risk factor for heart and cardiovascular conditions.
  • Reduce the intake of alcohol. Do not drink more than 14 units per week.
  • Control conditions that affect heart health as a complication, such as high blood pressure or diabetes.

While these steps do not remove the risk of heart failure entirely, they do help improve cardiovascular health and significantly reduce the risks of heart problems.


Exercise is one easy way to keep heart disease at bay.
Exercise is one easy way to keep heart disease at bay.

Heart disease is the most common cause of death for both sexes. Here are some statistics demonstrating the scale of heart disease in the U.S.

  • Heart disease causes the deaths of around 630,000 people in the U.S. each year.
  • In the U.S., a person has a heart attack every 40 seconds, and at least one person dies per minute from an event related to heart problems.
  • The health burden placed by heart disease on the U.S. economy is around $200 billion.
  • The most common type of heart disease is coronary heart disease.
  • Mississippi is the state with the highest rate of death from heart disease at 233.1 deaths per 100,000 members of the population. The state is closely followed by Oklahoma, Arkansas, Alabama, and Louisiana. Minnesota, Hawaii, and Colorado have the lowest rates.

Chukwuebuka Martins

Chukwuebuka Martins is a writer, researcher, and health enthusiast who specializes in human physiology. He takes great pleasure in penning informative articles on many aspects of physical wellness, which he then thoroughly enjoys sharing to the general public.

Leave a Reply