There are many types of heart disease that affect different parts of the organ and occur in different ways.
Congenital heart disease
This is a general term for some deformities of the heart that have been present since birth. Examples 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 an irregular heartbeat. There are several ways in which a heartbeat can lose its regular rhythm. These include:
- 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 electrical impulses in the heart that coordinate the heartbeat do not work properly. These make the heart beat in a way it should not, whether that be too fast, too slowly, or too erratically.
Irregular heartbeats are common, and all people experience them. They feel like a fluttering or a racing heart. However, when they change too much or occur because of a damaged or weak heart, they need to be taken more seriously and treated.
Coronary artery disease
The coronary arteries supply the heart muscle with nutrients and oxygen by circulating blood. Coronary arteries can become diseased or damaged, usually because of plaque deposits that contain cholesterol. Plaque buildup narrows the coronary arteries, and this causes the heart to receive less oxygen and nutrients.
The heart chambers become dilated as a result of heart muscle weakness and cannot pump blood properly. The most common reason is that not enough oxygen reaches the heart muscle, due to coronary artery disease. This usually affects the left ventricle.
This is also known as a heart attack, cardiac infarction, and coronary thrombosis. An interrupted blood flow damages or destroys part of the heart muscle. This is usually caused by a blood clot that develops in one of the coronary arteries and can also occur if an artery suddenly narrows or spasms.
Also known as congestive heart failure, heart failure occurs when the heart does not pump blood around the body efficiently. The left or right side of the heart might be affected. Rarely, both sides are. Coronary artery disease or high blood pressure can, over time, leave the heart too stiff or weak to fill and pump properly.
This is a genetic disorder in which the wall of the left ventricle thickens, making it harder for blood to be pumped out of the heart. This is the leading cause of sudden death in athletes. A parent with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy has a 50 percent chance of passing the disorder on to their children.
Also known as mitral valve regurgitation, mitral insufficiency, or mitral incompetence, this occurs when the mitral valve in the heart does not close tightly enough. This allows blood to flow back into the heart when it should leave. As a result, blood cannot move through the heart or the body efficiently.
Mitral valve prolapse
The valve between the left atrium and left ventricle does not fully close, it bulges upwards, or back into the atrium. In most people, the condition is not life-threatening, and no treatment is required. Some people, especially if the condition is marked by mitral regurgitation, may require treatment.
It becomes hard for the heart to pump blood from the right ventricle into the pulmonary artery because the pulmonary valve is too tight. The right ventricle has to work harder to overcome the obstruction. An infant with severe stenosis can turn blue. Older children will generally have no symptoms.
Heart disease is caused by damage to all or part of the heart, damage to the coronary arteries, or a poor supply of nutrients and oxygen to the organ. Some types of heart disease, such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, are genetic. These, alongside congenital heart defects, can occur before a person is born.
There are a number of lifestyle choices that can increase the risk of heart disease. These include:
- high blood pressure and cholesterol
- overweight and obesity
- family history a diet of junk food
- A history of preeclampsia during pregnancy
- staying in a stationary position for extended periods of time, such as sitting at work
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