Understanding the Different Types of Heart Disease

Every year, more than 30 million Americans are diagnosed with heart disease, the leading cause of death for both women and men. In fact, according to the CDC, someone dies from heart disease every 36 seconds in the United States.

With more than two decades of experience treating heart disease, Dr. Ashish Pal is skilled in identifying the cause of heart disease. At Vein & Cardiovascular Center, Dr. Pal uses advanced techniques and a custom-care approach to help every patient achieve optimal results. 

Here’s what he wants you to know about five of the most common types of heart disease.

5 common types of heart disease

When people think of heart disease, they likely think of one thing: heart attacks. But actually, heart disease is a blanket term that includes many diseases that affect the heart’s structure or function, including: 

Coronary artery disease

Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common type of heart disease, and it’s also the leading cause of death in the US. CAD is caused by atherosclerosis, which literally means “hardening of the arteries.”

With atherosclerosis, excess blood cholesterol (plaque) collects along the artery walls, making the walls stiffer. Plaque also makes it harder for blood to flow to the heart. Eventually, untreated CAD can lead to a heart attack or sudden cardiac death.

People with CAD often have angina, recurrent chest pain caused by inadequate blood flow to the heart. Less often, angina can be caused by vasospasm, a chronic condition that causes your arteries to squeeze too hard, temporarily preventing blood flow to the heart.

Valvular disease

Your heart has four valves that keep the blood moving one way inside the heart. The valves open in rapid succession and in a specific order. Valve disease happens when one of these valves isn’t working the way it’s supposed to.

Most valve disease is caused by stiff valves (valvular stenosis) or leaky valves (valvular regurgitation). Valve disease can be congenital (present at birth) or acquired later in life as a result of disease, infection, or an unidentifiable cause.

Congestive heart failure

Congestive heart failure happens when the heart muscle doesn’t pump blood as well as it should. Sluggish blood flow allows fluid to build up (causing congestion) in the lungs, feet, hands, and other parts of your body.

Coronary artery disease and high blood pressure are common causes of heart failure. Valvular disease, congenital heart disease, and other diseases can also cause heart failure. Like CAD, congestive heart failure is more common among older people.

Arrhythmias

Your heart beats in a normal rhythm to keep blood flowing at a steady rate. Arrhythmia happens when that beat is disrupted. Some types of arrhythmias are annoying but harmless; other kinds can be serious and life-threatening unless they’re treated.

Atrial fibrillation is the most commonly treated type of arrhythmia. Arrhythmias typically occur when the heart’s electrical signal is disrupted or abnormal. Symptoms can be intermittent and occasional or chronic.

Congenital heart disease

Congenital heart disease is heart disease that’s present at birth. In some people, congenital heart disease is diagnosed at birth or shortly thereafter (or even before birth). Other people may not know they have a heart problem until it develops later in life.

Congenital heart defects are more common among people with a family history of defects. Risk factors also can increase the risk of congenital heart disease, including:

Often, the cause is unknown.

Keep your heart healthy

Many types of heart disease mean many kinds of symptoms. Chest pain and shortness of breath are common to most types of heart disease, but other symptoms can occur.

Having regular cardiac evaluations helps diagnose even the subtlest symptoms, so you can get the care you need as early as possible.

To learn more about the heart disease treatment options we offer or to schedule a cardiac evaluation, call one of our offices in Orlando, Sebring, or Davenport, Florida, or book an appointment online today.

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