Different Types Of Heart Diseases: A Comprehensive Guide

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Heart disease also known as cardiovascular disease refers to a class of diseases that involve the heart or blood vessels. It is a broad term that encompasses various conditions including coronary artery disease, heart failures, arrhythmias, valvular heart diseases, and more. These conditions affect the heart’s ability to function efficiently and can have serious implications for overall health and well-being. However, different types of heart diseases could have multiple results for the patient and degrade their quality of life. This blog will help you understand everything about the diseases so that you can help yourself or care for your loved one effectively.

types of heart diseases

Arrhythmia

It refers to the abnormal heart rhythm where the heart may beat too quickly, too slowly, or with an irregular pattern. The heart’s electrical system controls the heartbeat and disruptions in this system can lead to arrhythmias. There are multiple reasons why it could affect a person. Firstly, the risk is significant if the individual has reduced blood flow to the heart and not pump enough for its use. Secondly, an episode of heart attack with the damages of heart muscles and disruption of electrical signals could also be fatal to the regular heart rhythm. Thirdly, your high blood pressure can clog the arteries and stop them from reaching the heart making way for arrhythmias.

Types Of Heart Diseases

Additionally, smoking and alcohol consumption with genetic factors and thyroid disorders can also cause blockage in the heart and disrupt the rhythm of the heart. Moreover, the treatment involves-

  1. Medications – They could range from anti-arrhythmias to preventing irregular heartbeat. Beta-blockers can reduce the heart rate and blood pressure, restoring the normal rhythm. Calcium blockers could control the heart’s electrical activity.
  2. Cardioversion– Electrical cardioversion includes providing electric shock to the heart under supervision.
  3. Ablation– Ablating the abnormal pathways using radiofrequency energy.

Atherosclerosis

It is a heart ailment that is caused by the gradual buildup of plaque in the walls of arteries. Atherosclerosis is a combination of fat, cholesterol, and calcium that deposits itself in the arteries and blocks. Primarily it is caused by high cholesterol that can increase the deposit of saturated fats. Secondarily high blood pressure could also increase the strain on the artery that must control the flow of blood in and out of the system. Certainly, smoking and alcohol habits like their counterparts can make you vulnerable to developing the disease. Its treatment options include-

  1. Medications – This could include statins to control cholesterol levels blood pressure medications and antiplatelet drugs to reduce the risk of blood clots.
  2. Procedures– Angioplasty and stent placement to open the narrowed arteries and improve blood flow. CABG is also a procedure done to bypass blocked coronary arteries but is less effective.

Cardiomyopathy

It includes a group of diseases that weaken the heart muscle and could be dilated, hypertrophic,  restrictive, and arrhythmogenic. Dilated cardiomyopathy causes the heart chambers to expand and can be caused by infections, genetic factors, consumption of alcohol, or exposure to certain toxins for a long period. On the other hand, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy causes the heart walls to become abnormally thick which is the result of genetic predisposition. Apart from these, restrictive myopathy forces the heart muscles to become elastic which could limit its ability to stretch.

It is often diagnosed in patients with connective tissue disorders like sarcoidosis and amyloidosis. Lastly, arrhythmogenic is caused by the replacement of blood vessels by fat and fibrous tissue all thanks to genetic factors. The treatments would consist of the intake of medications much like their counterparts. Firstly they are given beta blockers ACE inhibitors, diuretics, and anti-rhythmics. Secondly, dietary modifications are suggested including changes in eating oils, limiting oil intake, and avoiding certain medications. Thirdly, device implants including pacemakers and defibrillators could control cardiomyopathy to a large extent. Lastly, in severe cases, patients are asked to opt for a heart transplant.

Congenital Heart Defects

Congenital heart diseases are structural abnormalities present in the heart at birth. These defects can involve the heart’s walls, valves, or blood vessels, disrupting normal blood flow.  The causes of Congenital heart defects can be attributed to –

  1. Genetic factors– Some CHD genes may run in the family.
  2. Chromosomal abnormalities– Certain genetic syndromes such as Down syndrome are associated with CHD.
  3. Environmental factors– Exposure to certain medications, drugs, or infections during pregnancy could multiply the chance of contracting CHD.

Before moving to the treatment schedules, let’s look at the type of congenital diseases which could be septal defects, constructive defects, cyanotic heart defects, and valve abnormalities. It can be treated by

  • Monitoring– Some of these could subside as the baby gains energy.
  • Medications– Medications include diuretics and other medications to help the heart flow.

Coronary Artery Disease

It is a condition where the blood flow to the heart muscle is reduced or blocked due to the buildup of plaque. The primary reason for this condition can be attributed to Atheleroscis and multiple risk factors include high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, age, and smoking. It is usually seen as a subsequent effect of Atheleroscis which means the medications taken for it are quite similar to the ones taken during the former. Its symptoms could range from rising heartbeats causing palpitations, dizziness leading to frequent fainting, discomfort in the chest area with a sharp pain in the angina, and shortness of breath with difficulty catching breath especially when you exert pressure on your body. CABG, lifestyle modifications, and angioplasty could be used to protect the heart vessels.

Heart Infections

Also known as endocarditis, it occurs when the inner chambers of the heart valve become infected. Bacteria, fungi, viruses, and microorganisms can cause infections. Bacterial infections range from their entrance through the bloodstream or during dental procedures or surgeries and IV drug transfers. Viral infections could be a result of heart infection courtesy of influenza or rhinovirus. Lastly, fungal infections could weaken the immune system like Candida and Aspergillus. The treatment for the condition includes antibiotics to treat the infection, antifungals or antivirals to prevent the spread, surgery that involves removal of the infectious valves, and supportive care that involves pain management and regular follow-up.

Conclusion

No matter what the heart ailment is prompt treatment is crucial in managing heart conditions such as valve damage, artery blockage, or irregular heartbeats. Individuals with known risk factors like genetics should hold off on drinking and smoking or pursuing a sedentary lifestyle. A regular heart checkup should always be on your checklist and a detailed one if you feel any discomfort. Once you are diagnosed with the condition all you can do is follow the steps as suggested by your doctor and lean on your loved ones for support. Remember, it is always easier to get it diagnosed as soon as possible.

References

Farley A, McLafferty E, Hendry C. The cardiovascular system. 2012 Oct 31-Nov 6Nurs Stand. 27(9):35-9. [PubMed]

Hanna Tolonen, Markku Mähönen, Kjell Asplund, et al. Do trends in population levels of blood pressure and other cardiovascular risk factors explain trends in stroke event rates? Stroke, 33 (2002), pp. 2367-2375 View in Scopus

Dr. David G Kiely is a distinguished Medical Reviewer and former General Medicine Consultant with a wealth of experience in the field. Dr. Kiely's notable career as a General Medicine Consultant highlights his significant contributions to the medical field.

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