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All You Need To Know About Heart Disease

By Dr. Nikita Toshi +2 more

People nowadays are getting prone to several Heart-related illnesses owing to the unhealthy lifestyle, stress and environmental change around us. However, many of these conditions can be improved with lifestyle modifications, the right medication and treatment. In some of these cases, surgery may become necessary. This article gives an overview of the various types of heart-related illnesses, their signs, symptoms and causes.  


Types of heart disease:

The following are the most common types of heart-related illnesses –

  • Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) – this is the most common heart disease that causes blockage in the blood supply to the heart i.e the coronary circulation. This reduces the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart. The disease is multifactorial, the commonest cause being the thickening of the walls of blood vessels and the deposition of fat in the vessel wall (atherosclerosis), which can lead to complete closure(blockage) of the vessel. This can happen slowly over a long time or can be abruptly leading to myocardial infarction, which is known as ”heart attack” in the common language. The commonest pointers to CAD can be chest discomfort, breathing difficulty etc., especially while under physical or mental stress. There are some unusual symptoms of heart attack especially noted in females, the elderly and patients with diabetes. So, please consult your doctor to be sure regarding your CAD.
  • Heart Failure – The work of the heart is to pump the blood. There are two sides of the heart – right and left. The right side pumps the blood to the lungs and the left side to the whole body. The term ”heart failure” means this pumping work is not being done as per the requirements of the body. So, the heart ”fails” to pump blood to the lungs (right heart failure) causing swelling over the body or to the body (left heart failure) causing increased water in the lungs and breathing problems. Heart failure is usually caused by an old or new-onset coronary artery disease, but can also happen due to long-term high blood pressure, thyroid disease, infections to the heart etc.
  • Heart Arrhythmia – It refers to any abnormality in the heart rhythm. The normal heart is supposed to beat a certain number of times each minute. That is required to pump the blood to the body. If the heart of the patient beats lower than required, that is called ”bradycardia” (or low heart rate). If the heartbeats higher than required, that is called ”tachycardia” (or high heart rate). Sometimes, the heartbeat starts from a different part of the heart than normal. This can lead to irregular heartbeats causing different rhythm abnormalities. All these falls under heart arrhythmia. Patients with prevailing heart disease are prone to develop these. These abnormalities can also be noted in patients with an apparently normal heart. Your doctor will be your best guide to tell you whether some beat abnormalities that you are feeling are normal or otherwise.  

Coronary artery disease or heart attacks happens when coronary arteries struggle to supply the heart with enough blood, oxygen and nutrients. Cholesterol deposits, or plaques, are almost always to blame. These buildups narrow your arteries, decreasing blood flow to your heart. This can cause chest pain, shortness of breath or even a heart attack.

Dr. M.G. Kartheeka, MBBS, MD
  • Congenital Heart Disease – this disease happens when the heart is not formed correctly while the baby is still in the womb. This sometimes gives rise to heart abnormalities right after the birth but other times the symptoms don’t arise till the child is an adult. Some of these abnormalities are – hole(s) in the heart, narrowing/shrinking of a part of the heart or lung, abnormal number and size of blood vessels entering or leaving the heart, wrong connection of heart chambers with each other etc.  
  • Pericardial Disease – the heart is surrounded by a sac that is known as the pericardium. This sac has a small amount of fluid normally and it has expansile properties. Any abnormality in the amount or type of the fluid or thickness of the sac can cause problems. The commonest cause of diseases of the pericardium is a viral infection or existing illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.  
  • Cardiomyopathy – this is a heart disease that happens when the heart muscle gets stretched-thin, stiff or thickened. This might make the heart too weak to pump enough blood or increased the pressure inside the heart which makes it difficult to accommodate enough blood. Cardiomyopathy can happen as a reaction to certain drugs, toxins or alcohol. It can also be caused due to genetic heart conditions and viral infections.  
  • Heart valve diseases – there are four heart valves and any heart abnormality could lead to the improper functioning of the heart valves. One of the common illnesses leading to valve abnormality in the Indian subcontinent is rheumatic heart disease, which is a type of infection of the heart valves. Another common cause, which is rising by the day, is CAD.  

Heart diseases at times can manifest during pregnancy and can be a high-risk state, successful outcomes are very much possible, and symptoms like shortness of breath, trouble breathing, and palpitations should be taken up seriously to avoid any complications and emergencies.

Dr. Ashish Bajaj – M.B.B.S, M.D.

Symptoms of heart-related illnesses:

Heart disease symptoms mostly depend on the type of heart disease. However, here are a few common symptoms that you must be aware of. 

  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling of pressure or tightness in the chest
  • Weakness, numbness and pain in your left arm
  • Abnormal heartbeat  
  • Pale grey or blue skin
  • Swelling over the ankle, leg, around the eyes or over the abdomen
  • Persistent cough
  • Dizziness or fainting

These were a few of the most common symptoms. If you witness such symptoms, especially on exertion (while doing mental or physical work), then you must immediately consult a doctor.

Also Read: Take Care of Your Heart: Foods To Avoid If You Have Heart Palpitations

Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.

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