Heart disease describes any disorder that directly impacts the structure or function of the heart. Heart disease is the result of damage to part or all of the heart, poor supply of nutrients and oxygen to the heart, and damage to the coronary arteries. Some individuals have congenital heart disease, and some cases are the result of a genetic variation. A host of lifestyle choices can cause an individual to be at a higher risk of developing heart disease. Heart disease is diagnosed using electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, chest x-ray, cardiac catheterization, stress test, electrophysiology, CT heart scan, heart MRI, pericardiocentesis, and myocardial biopsy. Heart disease is treated by two main mechanisms. Numerous medications are available for the treatment of various types of heart disease, including statins, blood thinners, ACE inhibitors, and beta-blockers. When medication is insufficient to treat heart disease, one or more types of heart surgery are required.
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Heart Rhythm Disorders
Arrhythmias or heart rhythm disorders are a form of heart disease where an individual's heart is unable to maintain a healthy and regular rhythm or beating pattern. Heart rhythm disorders are the result of a malfunction that occurs with the electrical activity and path in the heart responsible for coordinating the heartbeat. A patient's heart may beat too slow, too fast, or in an abnormal rhythm. The electrical mechanisms in the heart can malfunction from an underlying cause such as scarred heart tissue, coronary artery disease, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, excessive alcohol consumption, stress, certain medications, sleep apnea, heart attack, cardiomyopathy, high blood pressure, smoking, and diabetes. Symptoms in individuals affected by heart rhythm disorders include a racing heartbeat, a slow heartbeat, shortness of breath, sweating, chest pain, dizziness, fainting, and lightheadedness. Common heart rhythm disorders include bradycardia, atrial fibrillation, tachycardia, atrial flutter, supraventricular tachycardia, ventricular fibrillation, Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, long QT syndrome, sick sinus syndrome, conduction block, and premature heartbeats.
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Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary artery disease is a form of heart disease where a patient's coronary arteries become narrowed or blocked over time. The most prevalent cause of coronary artery disease is a condition referred to as atherosclerosis, which occurs when the inner walls of an individual's arteries become hard and narrow from the buildup of plaque, a substance made of cholesterol and fatty deposits. When this plaque buildup occurs in one or both of the individual's coronary arteries that supply the muscle tissues of the heart with blood and oxygen, it is referred to as coronary artery disease. This type of narrowing can cause the tissues in the heart to become damaged when they do not receive enough blood and oxygen. Signs of coronary artery disease can be difficult to distinguish from other heart conditions. Acute issues that tend occur more often in patients who have coronary artery disease include stable angina, silent ischemia, development of collateral circulation, unstable angina, ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction, and non-ST segment elevation myocardial infarction. Electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, exercise stress test, chest x-ray, coronary angiogram, and cardiac catheterization are used to diagnose coronary artery disease.
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Heart failure is a form of heart disease where an individual's heart is unable to meet their body's demands because it cannot pump blood well enough. Other conditions in an affected individual can cause them to develop heart failure, including high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, faulty heart valves, cardiomyopathy, myocarditis, congenital heart defects, heart arrhythmia, diabetes, and amyloidosis. Heart failure can be classified into different types depending on the failing region of the heart. Left-sided heart failure causes blood and fluid to back up in the lungs because the left side of the heart cannot pump enough blood fast enough out of the heart. Fluid may back up in the patient's feet, abdomen, and legs when they have right-sided heart failure because the heart cannot pump enough blood fast enough into the lungs. Systolic heart failure means the patient's heart is unable to contract vigorously and has a pumping malfunction. Diastolic heart failure means an individual's left ventricle is unable to relax entirely and has a filling malfunction.
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Structural Heart Disease
Structural heart disease occurs when an individual is born with an abnormality in the structure or function of their heart or when wear and tear have caused alterations in the structure or function of their heart. Aortic valve stenosis occurs when the valve that allows blood to flow from the heart into the aorta becomes stiff and cannot open fully. An atrial septal defect is a structural heart disease where there is a hole that allows blood to flow back and forth between the atria in the heart. Heart valve disease occurs when blood cannot flow through the heart properly because one or more valves have become damaged. Mitral valve regurgitation is a structural heart disease that allows blood flow back into the heart because of an abnormal mitral valve. When the left ventricle muscle wall becomes too thick, it is referred to as a structural heart disease called left ventricular hypertrophy. Cardiomyopathy is a structural heart disease where the heart muscle has become enlarged and stiff. Marfan's syndrome causes problems with a patient's mitral valve or an aortic aneurysm. Myocarditis is a type of structural heart disease that occurs when the muscle tissues of an individual's heart become inflamed due to an infection or an abnormal immune system response.
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Coronary Vascular Disease
Coronary vascular disease is a form of heart disease where the coronary arteries do not function properly due to blood vessel abnormalities unrelated to the build-up of plaque. Most coronary vascular diseases are in the form of an anomalous coronary artery, where the individual's coronary artery has a malformation or abnormality. Some cases of anomalous coronary arteries are related to an irregular location of one or both of the coronary arteries, while others are related to abnormalities of the coronary artery shape and size. In addition, several other types of vascular disease can affect the coronary arteries. An aneurysm is a form of vascular disease that can occur in the coronary arteries where the artery wall bulges or balloons. Blood vessel spasms that arise due to Raynaud's disease or another mechanism can cause coronary vasospasm where the coronary arteries inappropriately contract and restrict blood flow to the heart tissues. A coronary artery dissection is a form of vascular disease where the artery wall experiences a tear that may enlarge over time. Another type of vascular disease that can affect the coronary arteries is called systemic vasculitis, where the coronary arteries become inflamed due to an infection or an abnormal immune response.