It’s a killer disease that affects a vast portion of the world population, but few people know the facts related to heart disease. Heart disease is actually an umbrella term for many different types of afflictions affecting the heart and below we have listed a few conditions that affect the heart; however, this does not represent the full scope of the many specific medical conditions that make up heart disease.
Coronary Heart Disease
Coronary heart disease is the build up of atheromatous plaque (inflamed tissue) within the arteries that pump blood into the heart; this can build up over time and restrict the flow of blood to the heart causing heart failure. If this does not happen then there is also the possibility that the plaques can rupture causing blood to clot and restrict blood flowing to the heart. The disease progresses over time, and symptoms are often non-existent until the condition manifests itself in the form of a heart attack.
When the plaque builds up to a point where the blood flow to the heart is reduced or cut off, serious consequences can result. Those with an advanced case of coronary heart disease may experience frequent and painful chest pains, due to a symptom known as ‘angina’.
The best way of preventing a case of coronary heart disease involves engaging in an active lifestyle, watching what you eat and avoid smoking.
Those who suffer from Ischemic heart disease experience a decreased flow of blood to the heart. Angina may also occur when a case of Ischemic heart disease is present. Just like Coronary Heart Disease this type of heart disease is very serious and can be prevented by maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
‘Ischaemia’ means an "inadequate blood supply". The only supply of blood to the heart muscle is through the coronary arteries, so any obstruction in the coronary arteries will reduce the supply of blood to the heart muscle.
Atherosclerosis is one of the most common cause of ischemic heart disease and may even exist when the artery lumens appear normal by angiography.
Possible consequences of Ischemic heart disease can be:
Temporary damage and pain (ischemia)
Permanent heart muscle damage, heart muscle does not grow back (acute myocardial infarction /infarct)
Loss of muscle activity (acute heart failure)
Long term loss of heart muscle activity (chronic heart failure)
Cardiac arrhythmias: irregular heartbeat which can be fatal. Most death is due to arrhythmias, usually tachyarrhythmias.
Other structural damage to the heart including damaged heart valves, actual perforation of the heart and a thin walled fibrous floppy heart.