Heart Disease Defined

Heart disease, or cardiac disease as it is otherwise known, is an extremely serious medical condition. Most people think heart disease is a medical condition that other people have, and that it doesn’t apply to them. The fact is heart disease is the number one killer in the United States. It is also the major cause for people to become disabled.

Heart Disease Cardiac Disease - Heart in Hands

Types of Heart Disease

There are many types of heart disease. The most common type is a blockage of the arteries, which is the main blood vessel supplying blood to the heart. This type is called coronary heart disease. The blockages are a gradual process, however they are  the major reason for heart attacks.

The other types of heart diseases involve the valves in the heart where the heart has restricted pumping action, leading to heart failure. Some people are born with this type of heart disease.

Coronary Arteriosclerosis (CAD)

Coronary arteriosclerosis (CAD) is the most common type of heart disease, leading the deaths in the United Stated. It happens when the arteries supplying blood to the heart become hardened and narrowed due to the build-up of cholesterol and another material called plaque. This leads to the heart muscle not getting enough blood or oxygen. This is the cause of angina or a heart attack. Heart attacks occur when a blood clot cuts off the heart’s blood, thus damaging the heart.

CAD also weakens the heart muscle and contributes to heart failure and arrhythmias. Heart failure is when the heart cannot pump blood to the rest of the body. Arrhythmia is the changing of the normal heartbeat.

Heart Disease Cardiac Disease - Diagram

Heart Failure (CHF)

Heart failure also called cardiac failure and CHF or left-sided heart failure and right-sided heart failure is a condition where the heart cannot pump blood to the rest of the body. Heart failure is when the heart stops or is about to stop. The weakening of the heart’s pumps causes blood and fluid to backup into the lungs, fluid to build-up in the ankles, legs, and feet (this is called edema) and tiredness and shortness of breath.

The leading causes of heart failure are high blood pressure, diabetes, and coronary heart disease. The treatment for heart failure includes treating the cause of the heart failure, heart transplants, and medications. Heart failure is a very serious condition. About 5 million people in the United States have this condition, causing more than 400,000 deaths a year.

Reducing the Risks of Heart Disease

It is possible to reduce the risks of heart disease by taking steps to control the factors causing the risks. Steps you can take to reduce the risks include controlling your blood pressure, lowering your cholesterol levels, not smoking, getting plenty of exercise, avoiding fatty and unhealthy foods and beverages, avoiding stressful situations as much as possible, and maintaining a healthy weight.

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