Heart Disease Types, Symptoms, & Causes

icon-blog By -Dr. Kanika Sharma
icon-blog By -December 18, 2023
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Everything You Need to Know About Heart Disease Types, Symptoms, & Causes

In the 20th century, global populations underwent significant lifestyle transformations, collectively referred to as epidemiological transition. These shifts, driven by advancements in science and technology, have permeated every aspect of human life. Societies transitioned from agrarian diets and active lifestyles to a prevalence of fast foods and sedentary behaviors. Coupled with the growing use of tobacco, these changes have contributed to the surge in obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure diseases, high blood cholesterol disorders, and various heart problems.

Developed nations experienced a gradual increase in the burden of heart diseases over several decades due to an extended period of epidemiological transition. In India, the rapid pace of economic development has compressed the timeline of epidemiological changes. Consequently, cardiovascular diseases (heart diseases) have become the predominant cause of death across India, with coronary heart disease (CHD) affecting Indians at least 5-6 years earlier than their Western counterparts. Current estimates from various cross-sectional studies suggest CHD prevalence to range between 7-13 percent in urban and 2-7 percent in rural India. 

Similar to respiratory disorders, cardiac problems also increased this year, particularly in young people. Given the nation's rapidly rising annual rate of heart disease, India may have the highest percentage of cardiac patients globally in a few years. Even though there are more heart attacks and other cardiac issues in urban areas than in rural ones, it is still vital to respect human life wherever it is found, and appropriate awareness is required everywhere. The conventional wisdom in the field of medicine has long held that heart attacks are mainly an issue for the elderly. The myth that cardiovascular disease primarily affects the elderly is being called into question as the number of heart attacks and sudden cardiac arrests (SCA) among young people has increased alarmingly in recent years. Studies have shown that the number of deaths in the under-50 age group attributed to sudden cardiac arrest has significantly increased. This demonstrates how important it is to provide cardiac health with the prompt attention and preventive care that it requires.

Numerous studies across the country have demonstrated escalating rates of modifiable risk factors for CHD across the rural-to-urban spectrum of the population. Moreover, migration and urbanization have led to an upsurge in the prevalence of risk factors such as diabetes and overweight. By knowing heart disease types, symptoms, & causes, one can keep certain modifiable risk factors at a bay. Medflick brings you this article to help you with the same.

What are Heart Diseases?

Heart diseases or cardiovascular diseases (CVD) is a broad term for array diseases that can affect your heart, blood vessels, and heart valves. When people think of heart disease, the most common type, that is coronary artery disease (CAD), comes to mind first. The heart attack is also among the first echoing words. This group of diseases is associated with various parts of the heart, such as heart muscle, valves, or is conduction or pumping system.

When your heart faces challenges, it struggles to efficiently supply enough blood, oxygen, and nutrients to your body. Essentially, the heart serves as the provider of the essential fuel that sustains the operations of your body's systems. Any hindrance in delivering this fuel can have a broad impact on the functioning of all the systems in your body.

Implementing lifestyle changes and utilizing medications can contribute to maintaining the health of your heart and reducing the likelihood of developing heart disease.

Types of Heart Diseases

Following are the various types of heart diseases:

  • Coronary Artery and Vascular Disease: The occurrence of coronary artery and vascular disease results from the hardening of the arteries, known as atherosclerosis. Specifically, coronary artery disease arises when the heart's arteries become narrowed or obstructed, representing the most prevalent form of heart disease that leads to the majority of heart attacks and chest pain (angina). Vascular disease extends to issues in other blood vessels, impeding blood flow and affecting the heart's function.
  • Heart rhythm disorders: Heart rhythm disorders, or arrhythmias, manifest as irregular heartbeats, either too slow, too fast, or in a disorganized manner. Millions of Indians experience heart rhythm disorders, disrupting blood flow, and there are various types of arrhythmias, with some being asymptomatic or lacking warning signs, while others can manifest suddenly and get a fatal cardiac issue.
  • Structural heart disease: It involves abnormalities in the heart's structure, encompassing valves, walls, muscles, or blood vessels near the heart. It may be congenital or acquired post-birth due to factors like infection, wear and tear, or other influences. Individuals with heart defects and their families require ongoing support throughout various life stages, often involving continuous medical care and surgical interventions.
  • Heart failure: It is a severe condition that develops when the heart undergoes damage or weakening, with heart attack and high blood pressure being the most common causes. Although there is no cure, early diagnosis, lifestyle modifications, and medication can assist individuals in leading an active life, minimizing hospitalization, and extending their lifespan.
  • Others: It includes infections, an enlarged heart muscle, and inherited disorders.

Early Signs and Symptoms of Heart Diseases

Early signs and symptoms of heart diseases include:

  • Chest discomfort: It is commonly known as chest pain, refers to sensations felt along the front of the body, spanning from the neck to the upper abdomen. Numerous factors can cause chest pain unrelated to heart issues. Nevertheless, it remains the predominant symptom of inadequate blood flow to the heart or a heart attack, termed angina.The nature and intensity of chest pain can vary among individuals, with the severity not necessarily correlating with the seriousness of the heart problem. Individuals may experience crushing pain, mild discomfort, a heavy sensation, or a squeezing feeling in the chest or heart. Additionally, sharp, burning pain may be felt in the chest, under the breastbone (substernal), or radiating to the neck, arms, stomach, jaw, or upper back.Angina-related chest pain typically occurs during activity or emotional stress, subsiding with rest or the use of nitroglycerin medication. It is essential to note that bad indigestion can also manifest as chest pain. Women, adults, and those with diabetes may exhibit minimal or no chest pain, presenting with symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath, general weakness, skin color changes, anxiety, fainting, lightheadedness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, palpitations, sweating, and shortness of breath.
  • Shortness of breath: It is a symptom of heart failure, arises when the heart cannot effectively pump blood, causing fluid accumulation in the lungs. This shortness of breath may occur during activity, rest, or while lying flat, potentially disrupting sleep.
  • Persistent coughing or wheezing: Persistent coughing or wheezing is problematic especially when associated with pink or bloody mucus, can indicate fluid accumulation in the lungs, a sign of heart-related issues.
  • Edema: Swelling in the legs, ankles, or feet, known as edema, is a further indication of heart problems. It results from slowed blood flow and backup in leg veins, leading to fluid retention.Poor blood supply to extremities signifies increased heart attack risk. Symptoms may include pain, achiness, fatigue, burning, or discomfort in the muscles of the feet, calves, or thighs, particularly during exercise, which resolves with rest. Numbness in the legs or feet, coolness, and pale skin may also be observed at rest.
  • Brain Attack: Stroke symptoms, labeled a "brain attack," encompass difficulty moving limbs on one side, drooping of one side of the face, loss of sensation on one side of the body, and challenges with speaking or language comprehension.
  • Fatigue: It is characterized by excessive tiredness, may be linked to heart issues if it exceeds normal levels, especially before or during a heart attack, hindering daily activities, or presenting with sudden, severe weakness.
  • Palpitations: Palpitations, fast or irregular heartbeats, may indicate the heart's struggle to pump blood efficiently, potentially accompanying an arrhythmia—a disruption in heart rate or rhythm.

Causes of Heart Disease

Various types of heart disease stem from diverse causes. The factors contributing to heart disease are:

  • Scarring of the heart muscle
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Genetic abnormalities
  • Complications related to kidney function
  • Infections, including severe ones beyond the heart
  • Thyroid-related issues
  • Rheumatic disease
  • Aging
  • Injury to a segment of the heart
  • Heart attacks
  • Specific diseases, such as autoimmune conditions
  • Pregnancy
  • Certain medications, particularly certain chemotherapy types
  • Substance use, including alcohol, cocaine, methamphetamine, and others
  • High blood pressure
  • Irregular heart rhythm

Risk factors of Heart Disease

The likelihood of heart disease causes may be increased if specific risk factors are present. These risk factors for heart disease comprise:

  • Elevated cholesterol levels
  • High blood pressure
  • Use of tobacco products
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Family history of heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Body mass index (BMI) exceeding 25 (indicative of overweight)
  • Consumption of unhealthy foods
  • Substance use disorder

Complications of Heart Diseases

Certain heart diseases can give rise to various other forms of heart disease. Complications arising from heart disease, many of which pose life-threatening risks, are:

  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Stroke
  • Irregular heart rhythms
  • Cardiogenic shock
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Heart valve disease
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Impairment to the kidneys or liver

Prevention Tips for Heart Diseases

You can reduce the risk of certain types of heart disease in following ways:

  • Attain and maintain a healthy weight for yourself
  • Manage other health conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol also
  • Try doing a minimum of 30 to 60 minutes exercise each day on most week days
  • Reduce your stress levels
  • Modify your diet with low in salt and saturated fat content
  • Avoid using tobacco products

Congenital heart disease is something you are born with and cannot be prevented.

Summing up!

Because your heart performs such an important function, it is critical to be aware of any warning signs of a heart problem. Many heart diseases progress over time. Detecting heart disease early gives you the best chance of successfully managing it. Consult with a healthcare provider about the best ways to prevent or manage heart disease. Even if there are certain risk factors you cannot change, there are other behaviors you can. It is never too early to begin making healthy lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, eating healthier foods, and increasing physical activity. A healthy lifestyle is the most effective way to avoid heart disease and its complications.

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Frequently Ask Question

Q1: What are 4 types of heart disease?

A: Coronary artery and vascular disease, heart rhythm disorders, structural heart disease, and heart failure are 4 types of heart disease.

Q2: What are the top 5 most common heart diseases?

A: Angina, coronary artery disease, heart failure, valvular heart disease, and cardiomyopathy are the top 5 most common heart diseases.

Q3: What are 6 types of heart disease?

A: Angina, coronary artery disease, congenital heart disease, heart failure, valvular heart disease, and cardiomyopathy are are 6 types of heart disease.

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