Heart diseases cover all kinds of conditions, disorders, and defects related to the heart and coronary blood vessels. 1 out of every 3 deaths in the US is linked to cardiovascular problems, averaging out to 1 death in every 40 second time frame, making heart disease one of the leading causes of death in adults, more so than all forms of cancer and lower respiratory diseases. One of the most frightening things about this umbrella heading of diseases is that they can have numerous causes and manifest in various different forms with totally different symptoms. We are here to give you some clarity on the types of heart disease, their causes and symptoms and the treatments available.
Who Can Get Heart Disease?
According to finds made by the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) in the United States, 1 out of every 4 deaths is caused by heart disease, which is now one of the most prevalent causes of death in adults. It can affects people of all races, be them African American, Hispanic, Caucasian or anything else. This disease does not discriminate based on gender either and is equally prevalent in men and women above the age of 30-40. However, heart problems become more common with age, and is the cause of death for 4 out of every 5 people aged 65 and upwards. But that isn’t to say it cannot affect people of younger ages. The amazing part is, heart disease is largely preventable, by following a wellness lifestyle and maintaining a healthy heart so it can keep pumping longer.
What are the types of Heart Disease?
There are an endless number of different types of heart diseases caused by cardiovascular issues in the body, though cardiovascular diseases themselves are heart conditions that affect only the blood vessels specifically. Because the heart is such a vital organ, problems can develop in numerous different ways and affect your body’s blood flow and breathing. Here are a few of the most commonly seen types of heart diseases:
1) Angina – Which occurs when the heart does not receive enough oxygen and nutrients.
2) Arrhythmia – Which occurs when there is a rhythmic abnormality in the heart.
3) Atherosclerosis – Which occurs when the arteries harden.
4) Cardiomyopathy – Which occurs when there is a hardening of the heart muscles.
5) Congenital Heart Defects – Which is an irregularity in the heart that occurs at birth.
6) Coronary Artery Disease – Which occurs when there is a blockage in the coronary arteries.
7) Heart Attack – Which occurs when damage to the heart muscles results in blocked blood flow.
8) Heart Failure – Which occurs when the heart is unable to pump enough blood to fulfill the body’s needs.
9)Heart Infections – Which occurs when bacteria and viruses affect the heart.
10) Peripheral Arterial Disease – Which occurs when blood flow to the lower half of the body is blocked or decreased.
What Are the Symptoms of the Different Types of Heart Disease?
Each of the above-mentioned conditions has there owned the somewhat unique set of symptoms as a result of the damage caused to the heart. To help you have a better understanding of how these diseases might manifest in your body, we’ve listed some of the symptoms that may be experienced with each of these diseases listed below.
The first symptom angina is always a pain or discomfort in the chest and can radiate downward the left arm, though the pain and discomfort can spread across the chest, shoulders, upper back, arms, neck, throat and jaw. The main symptoms you will experience over a short period of time will be one or a few of any of the following:
- a) aching, burning, cramping and discomfort across the body
- b) Fullness shortly after eating or without eating at all
- c) Feelings of heaviness
- d) digestive problems
- e) numbness or tingling sensations
- f) Build up of pressure
- g) Difficulty breathing and shortness of breath
- h) Heavy sweating and sensations of dizziness
- i) Squeezing and tightening of the heart muscles
Arrhythmia is essentially any abnormal rhythms experienced by the heart and they can cause a variety of symptoms, including but not limited to:
- a) dizziness
- b) lightheadedness or fainting spells
- c) fatigue and exhaustion
- d) shortness of breath
- e) chest pains
- f) rapid heart palpitations
- g) slowed or reduced pulse
This disease can be developed from an initial occurrence of arteriosclerosis, and results in major circulation problems. This ailment can be a little worrisome because mild cases can show fewer or no symptoms, which is why regular health check-ups are extremely vital. As it worsens the following symptoms can occur:
- a) Chest pains
- b) Angina (manifesting as pressure and discomfort in the chest)
- c) Sudden numbness and weakening of the arms and legs
- d) Trouble speaking and slurred speech
- e) Loss of vision temporarily in a single eye
- f) Cold sensations in the limbs
- g) Sudden pain or pain felt while walking
- h) An increase in blood pressure
- i) Possible kidney failure
Cardiomyopathy causes the expansion and rigidity if the heart muscles, substantially weakening them. This weakness affects the ability of the heart to continue the blood flow to the rest of the body. Much like arteriosclerosis, the initial stages of this this disease may not show many symptoms, which makes regular check-ups vital. In later stages, this disease will start to manifest in the following ways.
- a) Feelings of breathlessness when exerting yourself, or even resting.
- b) Fluid build-up causing bloating of the abdomen.
- c) Rapid or fluttering pulse or pounding heartbeat.
- d) Fatigue or exhaustion
- e) Discomfort or pressure in the chest.
- f) Swelling of the limbs and extremities
- g) Dizziness and fainting spells
- Congenital Heart Defects
Congenital heart defects are those that occur in the body during the formation of the fetus, before birth and are sometimes not easily diagnosed. Some defects of this sort may not manifest for a large period. In the more virulent cases of congenital heart defects, the following symptoms may be seen:
- a) change in the skin color to a blueish tinge.
- b) Difficulties in breathing and frequent shortness of breath
- c) The limbs and extremities begin to swell.
- d) Exhaustion, low energy levels, general fatigue.
- e) irregularity in the heartbeat.
- Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)
The plaque that builds ups in the arteries is the true manifestation of Coronary Artery Disease. These arteries are what our body uses to ensure a healthy flow of blood and oxygen to all the other organs through the heart and the lungs. This plaque build-up causes a number of distressful symptoms such as:
- A squeezing sensation in the chest, or a buildup of pressure
- Pain and discomfort in the chest
- Difficulty breathing, wheezing
- Nausea and stomach discomfort
- Indigestion and gas
- Heart Attack
Heart attacks are a very common cause of death globally, and cuts of the blood supply and oxygen supply to the rest of the body which can sometimes result in death. While there are some cases of heart attacks occurring with no signs or symptoms, usually the following symptoms are experienced when having a heart attack:
- Upper body pain and heaviness.
- Extreme chest pains
- Excessively sweating
- Fatigue and sudden exhaustion
- Shortness of breath and trouble breathing
- Sensations of nausea
- Heart Failure
Congestive heart failure is one of the most common types of heart failures and requires immediate medical attention, though there are other types of heart failure that can occur. When blood returning back to the veins gets backed up, it can cause a severe congestion in the tissues and muscles of the body. This is what is known as congestive heart failure and usually has the following symptoms:
- Persistent coughing and wheezing
- Difficulty breathing whether at rest or during an activity
- Fatigue and exhaustion
- Buildup of excess fluid throughout the body.
- Nausea and a loss in appetite
- Loss of cognitive function
- Rapid pulse
- Heart Infections
As the name would suggest, heart infections are damages caused to your heart due to the presence of a virus, infection or bacteria, and the most common are endocarditis and myocarditis. Heart infections commonly manifest the following symptoms:
- Heavy coughing and chest congestions
- Pains in the chest
- Sudden coldness and chills
- Rashes occurring on the skin
- Rise in body temperature or fever.
- Peripheral Arterial Disease
This disease occurs when there is a decrease or a blockage in the flow of blood and oxygen to the legs and lower extremities. This can negatively affect the lower have of your body which no longer has its necessitated supply of oxygen. The following symptoms will be seen on the legs and feet:
- Changes in the color of skin to a blueish tinge
- The occurrence of sudden brown spots on the skin
- Loss of hair on the calves and lower leg
- Numbness of the extremities or tingling sensations
- Sensations of coldness
- Pain and cramping after any activity
- Swelling of the extremities
- Development of ulcers
- Increased time for wounds to heal.
Symptoms of Heart Disease in Women
While this disease affects both men and women, a study carried out in 2003 showed that women were more likely to experience different symptoms than men after having suffered a heart attack. These symptoms were reported to have been experienced by the women in the study a full month if not more, before the occurrence of the heart attack. Because of these different symptoms in women, it is easy to confuse them with symptoms that also manifest during depression and menopause. These symptoms include:
- Anxiety attacks
- Disturbed sleep or insomnia
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Lightheadedness and dizziness
- Sudden paleness of the skin
- Shallow or slow breathing
- Fainting spells
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pain in the jaws
- Neck and back pains
- Sudden cold sweats
- Indigestion or pains similar to that caused by a gas buildup.
What are the Causes of Heart Disease?
Because heart disease is an umbrella terms consisting of multiple diseases, disorders and conditions that can manifest in many different ways, the causes of each type of heart disease differs from ailment to ailment. For example, Atherosclerosis and Coronary Artery Disease are both caused by the buildup of plaque in the arteries which blocks the supply of blood and oxygen to other vital organs of the body. Here are the causes of the other common heart diseases:
Causes of Angina
The main cause of Angina is muscle spasms occurring in the coronary arteries or a narrowing of these arteries. It can be cause by cold temperatures, extreme emotional reactions, and even cigarette smoke among numerous other normal day-to-day causes. While it doesn’t usually cause any permanent heart damage, it can be extremely painful. Atherosclerosis is another common cause of angina, as well as spasms of the coronary artery. The most common occurrences of angina are when the heart is working its hardest such as during completion of a physical activity, at times of stress or after heavy meals. However, angina can also occur on some occasions at times of rest.
Causes of Arrhythmia
Arrhythmia is essentially and irregularity in the rhythm of the heartbeat and it can be caused by a number of things, like most other heart diseases, including but not limited to: Congenital Heart Defects, Coronary Artery Disease, and Atherosclerosis. Previous heart damage, excessive use of caffeine or alcohol and general substance abuse can also cause arrhythmia. High Blood pressure and diabetes are also known to be the causes of this disorder along with stress and anxiety. Certain medications and herbal remedies and supplements may also cause arrhythmia.
There are four types of arrhythmia most commonly seen. They are:
- Irregular heart rate or extra heart heartbeats – these can occur once in a while even in a perfectly healthy. Still it is important to keep a check on your heartbeats as the momentary lack of oxygen to lead to an increased heartrate.
- Bradycardia – This occurs when the electrical signal from the heart is delayed or blocked, slowing down the heartbeat. Again, once in a while this occurrence is relatively harmless but over an extended period of time it can stop the body from receiving its required blood supply.
- Ventricular Tachycardia (VT) – This is an occurrence that causes the electrical signal of the heart to begin in the ventricles which can rapid increase the heart rate, reducing the flow of blood to the body. Sometimes this can even cause cardiac arrest. VT over an extended period of time can be extremely dangerous and should be checked by a physician if it occurs persistently.
- Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT) – When the heart’s electrical signal begins to occur just above the ventricles (lower chambers of the heart), it also causes a rapid increase in the heart causing a strain on the body due to the irregular blood supply. This can be extremely severe and lead to one of the three types of SVT, Paroxysmal SVT, Atrial Flutter and Atrial Fibrillation.
Causes of Cardiomyopathy
There are three major types of Cardiomyopathy that occur due to different reasons. Dilated Cardiomyopathy is amongst the most common type of cardiomyopathy and can lead to the weakening of the heart. While there is no absolute clear cause for it, it is largely linked to pre-existing damage to the heart caused by substance abuse, infections or other heart diseases. It could also be the result of extremely high and uncontrolled blood pressure or even hereditary conditions of the heart. Restrictive Cardiomyopathy leads to a rigidity of the heart walls and is believed to be cause by buildup of scar tissue in the heart as well as the buildup of amyloidosis, an abnormal protein that can stiffen the heart walls. Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy is a hereditary condition that usually results in a drastic thickening of the heart muscles
Causes of Congenital Heart Defects
Because these are the type of diseases that occur in the heart while the fetus is still in the womb, the more severe cases can be diagnoses and treated early, while others can go undiagnosed for long periods of time. There is no specific cause for these type of heart problems, as they can also sometimes develop into more serious diseases over time and as the child grows and the heart structure changes. Some defects may be hereditary or due to a problem in the genes of the child, while others can be caused by disruptions to the mothers health during pregnancy, such as use of certain medications, infections in the early stages of pregnancy, or substance abuse during pregnancy. General Heart Defects are usually caused by obstructions in the heart that block the flow of blood, termed as stenosis.
Causes of Peripheral Arterial Disease
Much like CAD, this disease is caused by the buildup of plaque in the arteries leading to a decrease of blood flow to lower limbs and extremities. It can be caused by the build-up of fat or atherosclerosis and other diseases that affect the supply of oxygen and blood flow to the rest of the body.
How Can You Treat Heart Disease?
There are a number of risk factors that can increase your chances of having heart disease, such as habits like smoking, drinking, consumption of caffeinated products, essentially any consumption in excess. There also risk factors you cant control, like genetics, family history, ethnicity, and age. That is why it is so important to have regular check-ups to know the what the health condition of your heart is at any given point so that you can prevent the possibility of having heart disease or treat any existing problem in the best way possible.
One amazing way to both prevent and treat heart problems is by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, chock full of nutritious foods, minimal sodium and fats and high in minerals and vitamins like fruits and vegetables. You can always approach a nutritionist or a physician to find out the best diet for you, as there are numerous diets that have been determined as best for people suffering from numerous ailments, such as the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). Quitting habits like smoking and drinking, or avoiding them entirely can also improve the condition of your heart. Most important is a regular regimen of exercise to keep the blood flowing to every part of your body on a daily basis, helping to avoid possible buildups of fats, proteins or plaque and keeping the heart pumping efficiently.
For certain types of heart diseases, medications might be necessitated to best treat them, control them or cure them, and most of these medications must be prescribed by a doctor. Some medications may also play the role of reducing the risk of worsening the disease or slowing the effects on the heart to allow you better functionality. Speak to your doctor to know what medications are for each other the types of heart diseases, and also clarify with him or her what other medications these heart medicines may be likely to interact with negatively, to avoid possible complications in the future.
One other option that many people have been opting for is invasive procedures like surgeries to prevent the condition of heart from worsening or to treat the disease entirely. In some cases, surgeries are the only option for treating heart problems, such as a buildup of plaque in the heart, which is best treated by the placement of a stent in the arteries, which will allow the blood flow to the rest of the body to continue unhindered.
Preventing heart disease, however, is preferable to cure. So the best way to do that is to keep a careful check on your cholesterol and blood pressure levels as these can develop into major heart problems in the future. The heart can also react to sudden emotional chemical signals of the body, so anxiety attacks and high levels of stress can result in heart problems over time. That is why stress management is vital for keeping your heart healthier in the long run. And of course, a general wellness lifestyle will only prove to benefit your heart and body as a whole. Exercise, a nutritious diet, and regular check-ups with your doctor will help you and your heart stay healthier over the course of your life.