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Heart disease

Heart disease is a broad term used to describe a range of diseases that impair normal functioning of the heart. It may be structural or functional abnormalities of the heart or of the blood vessels. The various diseases that fall under the umbrella of heart disease include:

  • Coronary Artery disease – This occurs when the coronary arteries (which supply the heart with nutrients, oxygen and blood) become damaged usually because of plaque and or cholesterol-containing deposits. Plaque accumulation narrows the coronary arteries and the heart gets less oxygen.
  • Arrhythmia – Is an irregular heartbeat that occurs when the heart’s electrical impulses do not work properly, making the heart beat too fast or too slow or both.
  • Congenital Heart Defects – Is a general term for some birth defects that affect how the heart works. The three main types of congenital heart defects include:
    • Septal defects – Refers to a hole in the partition between the two chambers of the heart.
    • Obstruction defects – Impair the flow of blood through various chambers of the heart which may be partially or totally blocked.
    • Cyanotic heart disease – Refers to heart defects that results in low blood oxygen levels.
  • Angina – Occurs when an area of heart muscle does not get enough oxygen due to the narrowing of the coronary arteries because of plaque accumulation or Atherosclerosis.
  • Dilated Cardiomyopathy – This disorder occurs when the heart chambers become dilated because the heart muscle has become weak and cannot pump blood properly. The most common reason is not enough oxygen reaching the heart muscle (Ischemia).
  • Myocardial Infarction – also known as Heart Attack or Coronary Thrombosis is usually caused by a blood clot that develops in one of the coronary arteries. It can also occur if an artery suddenly narrows (spasm).
  • 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; sometimes both sides are. Coronary artery disease or Hypertension (high blood pressure) can over time leave the heart too stiff or weak to fill and pump properly.
  • Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy – Is a disorder, in which the wall of the left ventricle becomes thick, making it harder for blood to enter and leave the heart. The heart has to work harder to pump blood.
  • Mitral Regurgitation – Also known as Mitral Insufficiency or Mitral Incompetence occurs when the mitral valve does not close tightly enough, allowing blood to flow back into the heart.
  • Mitral Valve Prolapse – Occurs when the valve between the left atrium and left ventricle does not fully close, it prolapses (bulges) upwards, or back into the atrium.
  • Pulmonary Stenosis – Makes it 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 do more work to overcome the obstruction.

According to the World Health Organization, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the UK, USA, Canada and Australia it is also a major cause of disability.