What Is Heart Disease and What Causes It?

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Definition There is a range of conditions that affect your heart. Blood vessel diseases, such as coronary artery disease, heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias), and heart defects you're born with (congenital heart defects) are examples of heart disease. The term "heart disease" is often used interchangeably with the term "cardiovascular disease." Cardiovascular disease generally refers to conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack, chest pain (angina) or stroke. Causes There are different types of heart disease. Therefore, the causes of different types vary.
  • Cardiovascular disease: Atherosclerosis, a buildup of fatty plaques in your arteries, is the most common cause of cardiovascular disease which can be caused by correctable problems, such as an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, being overweight and smoking.
  • Heart arrhythmia: Common causes of abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) or conditions that can lead to arrhythmias include heart defects you're born with (congenital heart defects), coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, excessive use of alcohol or caffeine, drug abuse, stress, some over-the-counter medications, prescription medications, dietary supplements and herbal remedies, and valvular heart disease
  • Congenital heart defects: Some medical conditions, medications and genes may be the causes of congenital heart defects while a baby is in the womb. Heart defects can also develop in adults. As you age, your heart's structure can change, causing a heart defect.
  • Cardiomyopathy: There are three types of cardiomyopathy. Dilated cardiomyopathy's cause is unknown. It may be caused by reduced blood flow to the heart (ischemic heart disease) resulting from damage after a heart attack, infections, toxins and certain drugs. It may also be inherited from a parent. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is caused by abnormally thick heart muscle which is inherited. It can also develop over time because of high blood pressure or aging. Restrictive cardiomyopathy's cause is also unknown. The heart muscle becomes rigid and less elastic because of it. It may be caused by diseases like connective tissue disorders, excessive iron buildup in your body (hemochromatosis), the buildup of abnormal proteins (amyloidosis) or by some cancer treatments.
  • Heart infection, such as endocarditis, is caused by bacteria, viruses, and parasites.
  • Valvular heart disease: You may be born with valvular disease, or the valves may be damaged by conditions like rheumatic fever, infections (infectious endocarditis), and connective tissue disorders
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