The heart, a vital organ in our body, pumps blood to every organ and along with blood vessels makes cardiovascular system. Heart diseases or cardiovascular diseases — coronary heart disease, valvular disease, congenital heart disease, cardiomyopathy, rheumatic heart disease, hypertensive heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, ischemic heart disease, inflammatory heart disease — can lead to heart failure.
Cardiovascular diseases have become an epidemic in modern society. The incidences of cardiovascular diseases are increasing due to sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy food habits. Avoiding smoking and alcohol, developing healthy eating habits, and doing regular exercise help prevent cardiovascular diseases.
Rheumatic heart disease is a type of cardiovascular disease characterized by rheumatic fever caused by streptococcal infection. Congenital cardiovascular diseases include the genetic defects like abnormal valves and chambers present at birth. Hypertensive cardiovascular diseases occur due to high blood pressure. Inflammatory cardiovascular diseases are caused by inflammation of heart muscle (myocarditis), pericardium (pericarditis), and inner lining of the heart (endocarditis). In ischemic cardiovascular diseases, the problems are caused by inadequate blood supply to heart, coronary artery atherosclerosis being the most common cause. Angina or heart attack is a type of ischemic heart disease.
The heart itself needs blood and nutrients to work properly and gets its share of blood supply from coronary arteries. Coronary heart diseases are linked to coronary arteries. The diseases of coronary arteries are very dangerous; coronary artery diseases like atherosclerosis may cause heart attack. Coronary artery diseases are the main killer in the U.S.; coronary artery disease is stated to be the most common cause of death in 2012.
Heart failure is actually a chronic condition where the heart muscle becomes too weak to pump the blood. Heart failure is caused by myocardial infarction (heart attack) and cardiomyopathies. Heart failure is classified into left-sided failure and right-sided failure. Some kidney diseases, thyroid diseases, and diabetes can cause congestive heart failure. In heart failure, the heart is unable to pump proper oxygen and blood to organs and is characterized by shortness of breath, swelling at ankles or ascites and fatigue. In heart failure, the heart may beat faster to provide adequate blood to distant organs. In other medical conditions, avoiding smoking and alcohol, controlling blood pressure, doing regular exercise, and following good dietary habits can prevent the heart failure.
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