Heart disease is not just a physical health condition. It can affect your whole life. It can cause emotional disturbances that may affect your relationships and your routines may also undergo changes. The key to recovery is effective, timely treatment and a good health care team.
What is Heart Disease?
The term Heart disease covers a variety of conditions that affect your heart. Heart disease is generally used interchangeably with, ‘cardiovascular disease’. While heart disease refers to problems and deformities in the heart, cardiovascular disease is a broader term that describes problems with the circulatory system and the blood vessels including the heart.
Diseases that fall under the category of heart disease are those that affect the heart’s muscle, valves or rhythm, such as congenital heart defects (heart defects by birth); blood vessel diseases like coronary artery disease; and arrhythmias (heart rhythm problems).
Cardiovascular diseases are conditions involving blocked or narrowed blood vessels that may lead to a chest pain (angina), heart attack or stroke.
Types of Heart Diseases
Some of the common types of heart disease which can occur in different ways include…
Congenital heart disease
This is deformity or defect of the heart that occurs before childbirth, during pregnancy, before the baby is born. Congenital heart disease occurs when something goes wrong while the heart is in the formation stage in a foetus that’s still in the mother’s womb. Types of Congenital heart disease are:
- Obstruction defects: Blood flow via various heart chambers is partly or fully blocked.
- Septal defects: This is a condition where there is a hole between two chambers of your heart.
- Cyanotic heart disease: Shortage of oxygen all over the body due to a defect in your heart.
Arrhythmia is irregular rhythm – a condition where your heart loses its regular rhythm. There are many ways your heartbeat may lose its regular rhythms, such as Tachycardia (when the heart beats too fast), Bradycardia (when the heart beats too slowly), Fibrillation (when the heartbeat is irregular) and additional, abnormal beats (premature ventricular contractions). Arrhythmias, if not treated in time, can become fatal.
Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary arteries supply oxygen and nutrients to our heart muscle. These arteries may get damaged or diseased generally owing to plaque buildup that contains cholesterol. Plaque deposit narrows or in some cases blocks the coronary arteries. This results in your heart getting less oxygen and nutrients.
Cardiomyopathy (Heart Muscle Disease)
Cardiomyopathy is a condition where your heart muscle gets stiff, stretched or thickened, making the heart too weak to pump. The causes may possibly be reactions to some toxins (like alcohol) or drugs, or genetic heart conditions. The most common cause can be because of the shortage of oxygen reaching your heart muscle, due to coronary artery disease.
Also known as heart attack, coronary thrombosis and cardiac infarction, Myocardial Infarction is an interrupted flow of the blood that destroys or damages part of the heart muscle. This is generally caused by a blood clot that may develop in one of the coronary arteries and can also happen if an artery spasms or narrows suddenly.
In heart failure, also called congestive heart failure, your heart does not pump blood around your body efficiently. Either left or the right side of the heart may get affected. Sometimes, rarely though, both sides are affected. High blood pressure or coronary artery disease may, over a period of time, weaken or leave your heart too stiff to pump blood properly.
Coronary artery disease or high blood pressure can, over time, leave the heart too stiff or weak to fill and pump properly. However, it could also be due to cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease) or due to thyroid disease, or some other conditions.
Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy is a genetic condition where the wall the left ventricle’s wall thickens, thus making it harder for the blood to be pumped out of your heart. This is said to be the leading cause of sudden death in athletes. There is a 50 percent chance of a parent with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, passing the disorder it to his/her children.
Mitral regurgitation (also called mitral valve regurgitation, mitral incompetence or mitral insufficiency) happens when the heart’s mitral valve does not shut tightly enough. This allows blood to flow back into your heart when it should actually leave. Consequently, blood cannot move efficiently through your heart or your body. Individuals with Mitral regurgitation often get tired soon and feel out of breath.
Mitral Valve Prolapse
In Mitral Valve Prolapse, the valve between the left ventricle and left atrium does not shut fully. It either bulges upwards or back into the atrium. The condition is not life-threatening and in many individuals, no treatment is needed. However, in some, especially if this condition is characterized by mitral regurgitation, it may require treatment.
This is a condition occurs when the blood flow from the right ventricle to the pulmonary artery is obstructed as the pulmonary valve is too tight. This is caused by narrowing (stenosis) of the valve, which makes it difficult for the heart to pump blood from the right ventricle into the pulmonary artery. Due to this, the right ventricle has to work harder to overcome the obstruction.
Some types of heart disease like heart defects, cannot be prevented. But, we can help prevent other types of heart disease by changing our lifestyle and adopting a heart-healthy life by quitting smoking, eating healthy, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising for at least 30 minutes three times a week and controlling diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, etc. You can also take Healthy Heart screenings regularly to know if you have any heart condition that was not obvious. The Apollo Heart Institute of Apollo Specialty Hospitals, OMR offers a comprehensive Heart Health Program.