What is heart disease?
Heart disease refers to the problems associated with the heart, coronery arteries and blood vessels
Heart disease can be of several types:
Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)
- The heart receives its own supply of blood from a network of arteries, called the coronary arteries.
Coronary artery disease develops when plaque builds up in the coronary arteries, they get narrowed and blood cannot easily flow through them. Coronary artery disease is also known as ischaemic heart disease and is the leading cause of death in the US. When the heart does
not receive an adequate supply of oxygen-rich blood, it can lead to angina which manifests as chest pain or pain in the shoulders, arms and back. It can also cause discomfort similar to an upset stomach.
Getting angina implies the risk of getting a heart attack. When an artery is completely blocked by plaque and the heart cannot get adequate blood for more than 20 minutes, a heart attack results.
- When the heart muscles get weak and are unable to pump enough blood, heart failure occurs. As a result of heart failure, other organs in the body are unable to get an adequate blood supply.
- When heart beats become irregular it is known as heart arrythmias. While an occasional racing of the heart is normal, if you have heart flutters as well as dizziness or shortness of breath, you should get emergency medical attention.
Rheumatic Heart Disease
- This is a condition in which rheumatic fever causes permanent damage to heart valves. The damaged heart valve either does not completely close or completely open.
What are the symptoms of heart disease?
The symptoms of heart disease can come and go and symptoms can develop slowly over time. It is therefore important to
recognize some symptoms of heart disease
- Sudden discomfort or pain in the center of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back. The discomfort can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain.
- Pain in the neck, jaws, shoulder, arms or back
- Pain that may feel like burning, squeezing, heaviness, tightness or pressure
- Discomfort that feels like a stomach upset
- Difficulty breathing
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dizziness and light headedness