ACLS Online Library: Heart Disease Resource Guide
The heart, as the primary pumping organ involved in the circulation of blood throughout the body, is supported by several veins and arteries that supply blood to and from the heart. When these vessels are affected, they can cause serious heart diseases that eventually lead to death.
Heart disease causes hundreds of thousands of deaths throughout the world each year. Some common heart diseases include cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, cardiomyopathy, ischemic heart disease, heart failure, hypertensive heart disease, inflammatory heart disease, and valvular heart disease.
Cardiovascular disease is a disease of the arteries, veins, and the heart. Since adolescents are vulnerable to this, it is important to start adhering to its prevention very early in life. The numerous kinds of cardiovascular disease include, but are not limited to angina, aneurysm, atherosclerosis, and peripheral vascular disease.
Tips for reducing the risk of the disease include eating healthy meals, exercising regularly, avoiding smoking, and excessive alcohol.
People having any form of heart disease can be treated by improving their diet and lifestyle. The health care providers and professionals involved in these conditions are cardiologists, thoracic surgeons, vascular surgeons, neurologists, and interventional radiologists. Which consulting health care provider a person may need will often depend on the presentation of the damaged heart vessel.
Coronary Heart Disease
Coronary heart disease is also known as coronary artery disease (CAD). Statistics show that more than 13 million people, both men and women, are affected by this in the US. The cause of the disease is blockage of the coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle, known as the myocardium.
When the blood flows to the heart is reduced, it causes chest pain or angina. Therefore, individuals having chest pain should not take their signs and symptoms for granted because of the possibility of having the disease. To prevent or reduce the risk of CAD, foods high in trans fats and saturated fats, smoking, excessive alcohol, and lack of exercise must be avoided or changed.
Coronary artery disease is caused by the damages done to the coronary arteries. The coronary arteries are damaged by several factors such as smoking, excessive alcohol, and the consumption of excessive sugar.
Cardiomyopathy refers to the condition wherein the heart can no longer pump as much blood as it used to. This condition makes the heart pump blood slowly as a result of the weakness in the muscle structure. The cause of Cardiomyopathy is by external factors, such as drinking, certain infections, and other idiopathic as well as genetic causes.
There are two main types of cardiomyopathy:
Primary cardiomyopathy – No other cardiac conditions present that lead to a weakened heart muscle. In some cases, cardiomyopathies are passed down to other family members, or inherited.
Secondary cardiomyopathy – A medical state caused by another heart condition, such as hypertension, valve disease, congenital heart disease, CAD, or toxins/medications. Some of these heart conditions are treatable, which can prevent damaging effects to the muscle. CAD is a common and possibly reversible cause of cardiomyopathy.
Cardiomyopathy is often further broken down into two categories, ischemic and non-ischemic, depending on whether CAD is causing the condition. Ischemia is when an area of the body isn’t getting enough blood.
Ischemic cardiomyopathy causes include, CAD and heart attacks. The heart muscle becomes damaged due to blockages in the coronary arteries, which carry blood to the heart, and it leads to cardiomyopathy.
Non-ischemic cardiomyopathy is not related to known CAD. They are sometimes inherited. There are four types of non-ischemic cardiomyopathy:
Other types of cardiomyopathy exist that do not fit into the general classifications. These include:
Cardiomyopathy can be treated by resting, taking medications and most importantly, prevention and/or reducing the occurence of known causes.
Ischemic Heart Disease
Ischemic heart disease is a condition that occurs when the blood supply to the heart muscle is reduced and arises when the coronary arteries have been affected.
The condition gets worse as one grows older. Smoking, excessive alcohol, and a diet high in cholesterol also aggravate the condition. The symptoms of ischemic heart disease include chest pain, also known as angina, and an inability to perform exercises for long periods because of fatigue or shortness of breath.
The possible treatments for this are angioplasty, medications, and coronary artery bypass surgery. Ischemic heart disease is most common in older individuals with men being more predisposed to the condition; however, women, become equally prone with an increased likelihood of developing the condition following menopause.
Another name for heart failure is cardiac failure—it’s the term used to refer to the case where the heart cannot pump enough blood for the whole body. People with heart failure can still live because their heart still functions, just not efficiently.
Heart failure can cause edema, persistent tiredness, and back-flow of blood and other fluids into the lungs. Heart failure is commonly caused by CAD, hypertension, and diabetes. People suffering from heart failure can benefit from the combination of medications and organ transplant to combat this condition.
Heart failure can be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight, eating a nutritious diet, and exercising regularly. Cardiac failure is the cause of about 300,000 deaths each year.
Hypertensive Heart Disease
When high blood pressure is not controlled, it frequently leads to hypertensive heart disease. Prolonged high blood pressure causes the myocardial structure, or heart muscle, coronary vasculature, and the entire circulatory system to change.
These changes cause other problems in the heart, such as coronary artery disease, systolic and diastolic dysfunction, myocardial infarction, and other heart diseases. Hypertensive heart disease, therefore, refers to those conditions that result from increased blood pressure.
Hypertensive heart disease is caused by the increased pressure needed by the heart to pump blood—if this is not treated, the heart muscle will become very thick, and congestive heart failure may occur. High blood pressure can also cause atherosclerosis to worsen. With the increasing rate of high blood pressure among adults, it is important to adhere to recommended measures to help avoid hypertensive heart disease.
Inflammatory Heart Disease
Inflammatory heart disease occurs when the heart manifests pain and gets swollen as a result of bacterial infection, viral infection, internal problems within the heart, environmental materials from the environment.
Symptoms of this include those similarly exhibited in rheumatic fever and Kawasaki disease.
The major types are myocarditis, pericarditis, and endocarditis. Myocarditis refers to the inflammation that occurs within the heart muscle. When pain is felt in the chest, it is possible that myocarditis may be the problem. Diagnosis is made with an electrocardiogram or magnetic resonance imaging test. Pericarditis occurs when the pericardium is inflamed—infection from virus and bacteria can cause it. Infection can also cause endocarditis, but this time, the inflammation is much more pronounced. Symptoms of endocarditis are night sweats and the presence of blood in the urine.
Valvular Heart Disease
When more than one valve of the heart is damaged, the situation leads to valvular heart disease. For instance, when the aortic and mitral valves on the left division of the heart or the pulmonary and tricuspid valves on the right side develop problems—this often leads to the backward flow of blood.
Valvular heart diseases may arise from birth or as a person ages.
Treatment of valvular heart disease can be by taking medications or by surgery to replace the heart valves. Sometimes, valvular heart disease is caused by rheumatic fever or drugs, such as ergotamine and methysergide.