Your heart is the focal point of your circulatory system. It consists of four valves through which arteries carry the blood purified by the heart to all your body parts, and veins that bring deoxygenated blood to the heart for purification. For your heart and circulatory system to function efficiently, your heart should be in a healthy condition. However, it may develop a variety of diseases due to unhealthy eating, a sedentary lifestyle, and certain chronic diseases, such as diabetes, and hypertension, or high blood pressure.
Common heart diseases and their key symptoms are described below:
Problems with blood vessels, called as coronary artery disease
The condition occurs due to the buildup of fatty plaque in your arteries that damages blood vessels and the heart.
Symptoms of coronary heart disease:
- Chest pain, tightness of chest, chest discomfort, and chest pressure. The condition is medically known as angina.
- Shortness of breath.
- Pain, weakness, numbness and coldness in the legs or arms. This happens due to the narrowing of blood vessels in these parts.
- Pain in the neck, jaw, throat, back, and upper abdomen.
Heart valve diseases
Also known as valvular heart disease, the condition is caused due to the problems with any of the four valves of your heart, such as narrowing (stenosis), improper closing (prolapse), leaking (insufficiency or regurgitation).
Symptoms of heart valve disease include:
- Shortness of breath
- Irregular heartbeat
- Chest pain
- Swollen feet or ankles
Heart rhythm problems, known as arrhythmias
Your heart will beat too quickly, or too slowly, or irregularly. The symptoms of arrhythmias include:
- Racing heartbeat
- Fluttering in the chest
- Slow heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
Diseases of the heart muscle
In the early stages of heart muscle disease, you may not have any symptoms but as you may experience the below symptoms if the disease progresses:
- Breathlessness with activity or at rest
- Swelling of legs and feet
- Irregular heartbeats
- Fainting and dizziness
Heart diseases due to infection (Endocarditis)
This infection of the heart affects the inner lining of your heart chamber and heart valve. Symptoms of heart infection include:
- Shortness of breath
- Changes in heart rhythm
- Dry or persistent cough
- Skin rashes
Heart failure and heart attack
Moreover, heart failure can occur when the heart is still functioning but not as efficiently as it should. Congestive heart failure can occur due to untreated coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, and other conditions. The condition affects the person’s ability to pump or relax properly.
Diagnosing heart diseases
You should not ignore these symptoms and see a heart specialist to diagnose your problem. The doctor may perform the below tests to diagnose your heart problem, such as:
- Blood tests
- ECG (Electrocardiogram)
- Chest X-ray
- Stress test
- CT scan (computerized topography)
- MRI or magnetic resonance imaging
Treating heart diseases
Heart diseases can be treated with medications such as anticoagulants, antiplatelet therapies, beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, and cholesterol lowering medications. Surgery, such as coronary artery bypass surgery, valve replacement or repair, coronary angiography, laser treatment, or device placement, such as pacemaker, may be required in severe cases of heart diseases. Heart attack is when one or more of your coronary arteries become blocked. The plaque in the artery ruptures and spills cholesterol and other substances into the bloodstream, forming a clot at the site of rupture. The clot can block the artery completely, depriving the heart of oxygen and nutrients. Both heart failure and heart disease can be life-threatening, and require emergency room visit failing which the patient may die.
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