What is Heart Disease?

Heart Disease includes many different conditions that affect the heart or blood vessels.


A heart attack happens when blood flow to part of the heart is blocked, usually by a blood clot.  If blood flow is cut off completely, the part of the heart muscle supplied by that artery begins to die.


Heart failure happens when the heart cannot pump blood as well as it should.  It keeps working but the body doesn’t get all the blood and oxygen it needs.


Arteriosclerosis happens when plaque from too much fat and cholesterol in the diet builds up on the inner walls of the arteries, which makes them narrower.  The arteries can become so narrow that blood cannot get through, especially if a blood clot forms.


Coronary heart disease is the most common form of heart disease.  The coronary arteries become narrow or clogged from arteriosclerosis and they cannot pump enough blood into the heart.  This leads to a heart attack if the blood supply gets blocked off completely.


Angina is pain, usually felt in the chest, left arm or shoulder and occurs when not enough blood reaches the heart.  This does not cause permanent damage to the heart and usually goes away after resting for a few minutes or taking prescribed medication.


Cardiomyopathy happens when the heart loses its ability to pump blood and sometimes the heart rhythm gets interrupted, leading to irregular heartbeats or arrhythmias.  This affects about 50,000 Americans and is the leading reason for heart transplants.  Unlike other forms of heart disease, cardiomyopathy often occurs in younger people.  It is a progressive condition that can worsen quickly.


Congenital cardiovascular defect happens when the heart or blood vessels near the heart don’t develop normally at birth.


In most cases, heart disease is the result of a build up of cholesterol and fat on the arteries.  Eating a high-fat, high-cholesterol diet, not exercising and smoking all contribute to heart disease.


To learn more about Heart Disease, please contact the American Heart Association at 800-242-8721.  You can also visit them online at www.americanheart.org.


Phone code: 1745

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