Heart is a muscular organ having a size of about a fist, located in a slightly left position in the center of the chest. The heart has the function of pumping the blood and circulates it through the entire body.

Heart disease is a condition which leads to the impairing of the proper functioning of the heart. Heart disease includes various types of disorders like cardiovascular diseases, disorders related to the rhythm of heart and birth defects in heart. Though there are many types of heart diseases, but following a proper lifestyle with appropriate treatment and medication can help in curing, preventing or reducing the extent of heart disease.

How Common is Heart Disease in United States

Types and Symptoms of Heart Disease

There exists numerous types of heart diseases and each has its own symptoms. Let us have a look at the different types of heart disease along with its symptoms:

Arrhythmia: This is a type of heart disease where the heart has an irregular heartbeat. It happens when the heart's electrical impulses involved in the coordination of heartbeats do not work properly rather are erratic in their rhythm. The common sub-types and symptoms include:

  • Tachycardia: Fast beating of heart.
  • Bradycardia: Slow beating of heart.
  • Premature contraction: The heart beats too prematurely.
  • Fibrillation: The heart beat becomes irregular.

Angina: It is also known as angina pectoris. Angina is a type of heart disease in which some region of heart muscle does not get enough oxygen which results in chest discomfort, tightness or pain.

Congenital Heart Disease: This disorder of the heart happens due to the presence of birth defects. It includes:

  • Septal Defects: It involves presence of hole in the heart.
  • Obstruction Defects: These defects obstruct the flow of blood through various chambers of the heart. The blockage can be partial or complete in this type of heart disease.
  • Cyanotic Heart Disease: A type of heart disease in which due to the defect in heart, the heart is not able to pump enough oxygen around the body.

Coronary Artery Disease: The arteries, which supply the nutrients, oxygen and blood to the heart, are called coronary arteries. These arteries when gets damaged due to plaque or cholesterol deposition causes less oxygen to reach the heart results in coronary artery disease. This leads to angina followed by shortness of breath and heart attack.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy: In this type of heart disease, the heart chambers become expanded due to which the heart muscle become weak and are unable to pump blood appropriately. This causes limited amount of oxygen reaching the heart and the symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Swelling of the ankles, feet, legs, abdomen and veins in the neck region.

Myocardial Infarction: Also known as heart attack, MI is a severe type of heart disease which occurs due to interruption of the blood flow and lack of oxygen which damages the heart muscle. The symptoms for this condition are:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Anxiety
  • Cough
  • Dizziness
  • A very fast heart rate.

Heart Failure: It is also known as congestive heart failure in which the heart is not able to pump blood around the body efficiently. The symptoms that follow the condition are:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Swelling in abdomen, legs, ankles and feet
  • Rapid and irregular heartbeat
  • Persistent cough with blood
  • Increased urination at night
  • Sudden weight gain due to fluid retention
  • Lack of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Chest pain

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy: It is a genetic disorder in which the left ventricle wall becomes thick, thus making it tough for blood to leave the heart. Consequently, the heart has to labor harder to pump blood.

Rheumatic Heart Disease: Rheumatic heart disease is a heart disease resulting from rheumatic fever which leads to damage of the heart valves. It can be short-term or acute and long-term or chronic. The symptoms include:

  • Chest Pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Excessive Fatigue
  • Heart Palpitations
  • A thumping sensation in chest
  • Wrist, ankles and stomach swelling.

Mitral Regurgitation: This occurs when the mitral valve in the heart does not close tightly thereby allowing blood to flow back into the heart. As a result, the patient feels tired, fatigued and out of breath. The symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Congestion around the heart and lungs
  • Swelling of the legs and feet.

Pulmonary Stenosis: The tightness in the pulmonary valve makes it difficult for the heart to pump blood from the right ventricle into the pulmonary artery. The symptoms include:

  • Abdominal swelling
  • Bluish color of the skin or cyanosis
  • Chest pain
  • Fainting
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sudden death.

How Common is Heart Disease in United States and What is its Prognosis?

In 2008, 30 percent of all global deaths were due to cardiovascular disease and 80 percent of these death happened in middle- and low-income countries. A recent report suggests cardiovascular disease is one of the major causes of death globally leading to 17.3 million deaths every year and the numbers are likely to increase by 2030. In the United States, predominant scenarios of heart failure exceed to over 5 million and each year more than 5,00,000 new cases are identified which have an approximate survival assessment of a 50% in 5 years and 10% in 10 years. The heart diseases cost the United States $108.9 billion annually according to the CDC. It is, thus, required to detect, analyze and treat the heart disease as early as possible. In case, it is left untreated, heart disease can lead to a wide range of complications, such as a heart attack, heart failure, stroke and even death.

Causes of Heart Disease

The cause of heart disease is the inability of blood vessels to carry blood due to blockage. There are various reasons to it which are:

  • High cholesterol
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Birth Defects.

Diagnosis of Heart Disease

Different techniques are used to diagnose the heart diseases. The initial examinations are blood test and chest X-ray to rule out other possibilities, other tests include:

  • Electrocardiogram: It is used for determination of rhythm of heart.
  • Echocardiogram: To analyze the blood flow through heart.
  • Cardiac Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan: It is used to study the cross-sectional view of heart.
  • Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): Study the condition of heart by using powerful magnets and radio waves.
  • Stress Test: This test assesses the condition of heart and monitors heart during periods of vigorous activity.

Treatment of Heart Disease

Heart disease treatments can be done depending on the condition of the heart. A number of things are included in the treatment process of heart disease and they are:

  • Lifestyle Modification to Manage Heart Disease: In the initial stages, lifestyle modification helps mostly. It involves eating a healthy diet, regular exercise, quitting smoking and alcohol and undergoing stress management therapy.
  • Medications to Treat Heart Disease: When the changes in lifestyle conditions do not show positive responses, then medical attention is required for prescription of medications like:
    • Aldosterone Inhibitors
    • Angiotensin II Receptor Blocker (ARBs)
    • Beta-Blockers
    • ACE Inhibitors
    • Calcium Channel Blockers
    • Cholesterol -Lowering Drugs
    • Digoxin
    • Diuretics.
  • Surgeries to Treat Heart Disease: Some heart conditions does not get treated with medications only and requires medical procedures which are:
    • Angioplasty: In this procedure a flexible tube is introduced in arteries to increase blood flow.
    • Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery: This procedure involves surgical removal of blood vessels from one area of the body and placing them to another area, to help in improving blood flow to the heart.

Prevention of Heart Disease

A number of heart diseases can be prevented if proper care is taken. These involve undergoing a lifestyle modification with healthy life choices like:

  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Regular exercise
  • Quitting smoking and alcohol
  • Undergoing stress management therapy
  • Managing blood sugar levels
  • Keeping blood pressure under control
  • Lowering the cholesterol
  • Weight loss
  • Family history information on heart diseases.


Heart disease includes a wide range of conditions that affects the heart. Heart disease when detected early can be treated easily so medical help should be contacted in case any concerns about heart health arise. In case symptoms appear for a developing heart disease, immediate medical intervention should be done to reduce risk. One should be more cautious if there is a family history of heart disease.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:


Last Modified On: May 27, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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