There are many different types of heart disease. Some are well within our control and preventable. Others are not within our control, but there are many things that can be done to protect your heart. Below is a list of common types of heart disease:
- Coronary artery disease (including heart attack). Hardening of the arteries starts long before a heart attack. Initially, chronic infection and inflammation begin to cause damage to the lining of the arteries. As a result, the body uses calcium and cholesterol to essentially plug up the holes in the arteries. This repair process sometimes fails to shut off, and calcium and cholesterol begin to accumulate excessively along the arterial walls. Eventually, the coronary arteries become narrowed. Narrowed arteries can produce chest pain and discomfort, known as angina. Once the arteries become so clogged that blood can no longer reach the heart, a heart attack occurs.
NOTE: In the event of a heart attack, emergency medical treatment is crucial to survival. If you experience chest discomfort, shortness of breath, and/or sudden arm and/or back pain, call 911. Prompt medical treatment can mean the difference between life and death.
- Abnormal heart rhythms or arrhythmias. Your heart rhythm is coordinated by the heart’s electrical system. A disruption of the heart’s electrical system can lead to an irregular heartbeat. While many arrhythmias are benign, others are more serious and require medical treatment. In severe cases, abnormal heart rhythms can cause sudden cardiac death.17
- Heart failure. The heart may be weakened due to a variety of factors that increase the potential for the heart to fail.
- Heart valve disease. Includes any disorder that involves a dysfunction of the heart’s valves. The flaps that regulate blood flow in and out of the heart’s chambers can be ineffective, leading to variety of heart conditions—including heart failure.
- Congenital heart disease. Heart disease can be the result of a genetic birth defect. Congenital heart defects may require surgical intervention.
- Heart muscle disease (cardiomyopathy). The heart muscle becomes enlarged, stiff, and thick. As a result, the heart can no longer pump blood effectively, leading to heart disease.
- Pericardial disease. The pericardium is a thin membrane that surrounds the heart. It can become inflamed and cause heart problems.
- Vascular disease (blood vessel disease). Any disease that affects the circulation of blood throughout the body can damage the heart, due to the lack of adequate blood supply.
- Myocarditis. An infection of the heart that can occur during and after a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection.
Additional Information about Heart Disease
- Common symptoms of heart disease
- Common causes of heart disease
- Natural and alternative treatments for heart disease
- Dietary and lifestyle recommendations that may help in the treatment of heart disease
- Conventional or prescription medications used in the treatment of heart disease
- Additional reading for heart disease