Heart Disease

By: Autumn Hunter

Just a couple of the different types:

Coronary artery disease is America's No.1 killer, affecting more than 13 million Americans.

An enlarged heart (cardiomegaly) can have various causes. But it's usually caused by high blood pressure (hypertension) or coronary artery disease.

You know there's nothing funny about a heart attack. There's a lot more to learn. Here's what you need to know: no more, no less.

Irregular heart rhythm -- arrhythmia -- is when your heart doesn't keep up a good beat. Learn what it means here.

Warning Signs:

  • When to call the doctor?

If you or a loved one has heart disease, when must you call the doctor? When should you head for the emergency room? Click here for clear, fast information.

  • Angina

Doctors call it angina pectoris. You call it chest pain. It may feel like indigestion -- or like an elephant just stepped on your chest. Here's what it means.

Frequently asked questions:

What is the burden of cardiovascular disease?

An estimated 17.3 million people die of cardiovascular diseases every year. 80% of the deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.

What causes cardiovascular disease?

There are many risk factors that contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease. Some people are born with conditions that predispose them to heart disease and stroke, but most people who develop cardiovascular disease do so because of a combination of factors such as poor diet, lack of physical activity and smoking, to name just three. The more risk factors you expose yourself to, the higher the chance of developing cardiovascular disease.Many of the risk factors for cardiovascular disease cause problems because they lead to atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is the narrowing and thickening of arteries. Atherosclerosis develops for years without causing symptoms. It can happen in any part of the body. Around the heart, it is known as coronary artery disease, in the legs it is known as peripheral arterial disease.

The narrowing and thickening of the arteries is due to the deposition of fatty material, cholesterol and other substances in the walls of blood vessels. The deposits are known as plaques. The rupture of a plaque can lead to stroke or a heart attack.

Is heart disease hereditary?

Heart disease can run in some families. But even if you inherit the risks factors that predispose you to heart disease, such as high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, or being overweight, there are measures you can take that will help you avoid developing cardiovascular disease.


  • A heart arrhythmia is an abnormal heartbeat. Your heart may beat too quickly, too slowly or irregularly. Heart arrhythmia symptoms can include: Fluttering in your chest, Racing heartbeat (tachycardia), Slow heartbeat (bradycardia), Chest pain or discomfort, Shortness of breath, Light headedness, Dizziness, & Fainting (syncope) or near fainting.

  • Serious congenital heart defects — defects you're born with — usually become evident soon after birth. Heart defect symptoms in children could include: Pale gray or blue skin color (cyanosis), Swelling in the legs, abdomen or areas around the eyes, In an infant, shortness of breath during feedings, leading to poor weight gain.

  • Cardiomyopathy is the thickening and stiffening of heart muscle. In early stages of cardiomyopathy, you may have no symptoms. As the condition worsens, symptoms may include: Breathlessness with exertion or at rest, Swelling of the legs, ankles and feet, Fatigue, Irregular heartbeats that feel rapid, pounding or fluttering, & Dizziness, light headedness and fainting.
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