Heart disease is a general term that refers to various heart problems. It is also called cardiovascular disease or heart and blood vessel disease. It can lead to heart failure — a condition where the heart can't pump oxygenated blood to the body's vital organs.
Heart Disease is the leading cause of death in the US, but there are ways to prevent and manage many types of heart disease. But before anything else, it's essential to know the most common types of heart disease.
There are many different types of cardiovascular diseases. A problem with your heart's electrical conduction system can lead to abnormal heart rhythms or heart rates. Below is a graphical representation that shows the 4 four types of heart diseases common in men and women.
Cardiomyopathy is a disease that affects the heart muscle or myocardium. The myocardium can become stretched, thickened, or stiff due to cardiomyopathy, leading to a weakened heart that struggles to pump blood properly. There are many possible causes of cardiomyopathy, including the following:
- Reactions to certain drugs or toxins
- Infections from a virus
- Genetic heart conditions
2. Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary Artery Disease, or CAD, is the most common heart problem. With CAD, you may get blockages in the vessels that supply blood to your heart (coronary arteries). That can lead to a decrease in the flow of blood to the heart muscle, keeping it from getting the oxygen it needs.
Coronary heart disease is when the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle become narrowed. This can cause chest pain (angina) or a heart attack. Things that may put you at a higher risk of heart disease are:
- High cholesterol levels
- High blood pressure
- Family history
3. Rheumatic Heart Disease
Rheumatic heart disease is a condition caused by damage to the heart valves and heart muscle from inflammation that can develop from rheumatic fever, which is linked to strep throat and scarlet fever. Rheumatic fever is an inflammatory disease that can damage the heart, joints, skin, and brain. It is caused by a streptococcal infection, such as strep throat or scarlet fever.
In the past, before the advent of antibiotics, Rheumatic heart disease was a relatively common condition. However, the incidence of RHD has decreased dramatically with the widespread use of antibiotics to treat strep throat and scarlet fever. Even so, the disease still occurs, especially in developing countries with limited access to antibiotics.
Symptoms of RHD typically develop many years after the initial strep infection, which is why the condition is often referred to as a "late complication" of strep throat or scarlet fever.
4. Congenital Heart Disease
Congenital heart disease (CHD) is a defect that occurs in the heart of a fetus during pregnancy. It is the most common congenital disability, affecting nearly 1 in 100 births.
There are many different types of CHD, ranging from mild to severe. Most congenital heart defects do not cause obvious symptoms.
The most common type of CHD is a septal defect, a hole in the wall separating the left and right sides of the heart. Septal defects can be repaired surgically. Other types of CHD include pulmonary stenosis, in which the valve between the heart and the lungs is narrow and does not open properly, and patent ductus arteriosus, in which a small blood vessel between the heart and the lungs does not close after birth as it should. These conditions can be treated with surgery, a catheter procedure, or medication.
What to treat heart disease?
The treatment for heart disease will differ depending on the type of heart disease, the severity of the symptoms, and any other pre-existing health conditions. Possible treatments may include:
- Heart-healthy lifestyle changes
- Procedures or surgeries
- Cardiac rehabilitation