Types of Heart Conditions

Heart disease is categorized as being any disorder that affects the heart's ability to function normally. The most common types of heart conditions include:

  • Angina is chest pain or discomfort that usually occurs with activity or stress. Angina may feel like indigestion (or like an elephant just tromped on your chest) and is due to poor blood flow through the blood vessels in the heart.

  • Coronary artery disease is the most common type of heart condition and affects more than 13 million Americans each year - killing more than 385,000 people annually. Coronary artery disease is a result of plaque buildup in your arteries, which blocks blood flow and heightens the risk for heart attack and stroke.

  • Heart attack: If you have coronary artery disease, the coronary arteries become narrow making it difficult for blood to flow as well as it should due to hard plaque and/or blood clots. If the artery gets completely blocked, the heart muscle becomes "starved" for oxygen. Within a short time, death of heart muscle cells occurs, causing permanent damage. This is what's known as a heart attack. Learn about the warning signs of a heart attack.

  • Atrial fibrillation is a common form of arrhythmia (irregular or abnormal heart rhythm) that causes the atria, upper chambers of the heart, to contract abnormally.

  • Types of heart valve disease include:
    1. Valvular stenosis occurs when there is narrowing, stiffening, thickening, fusion or blockage of one or more valves of your heart.
    2. Valvular insufficiency, also called regurgitation, incompetence or "leaky valve," occurs when a valve does not close tightly.

  • Sudden cardiac death is a sudden, unexpected death caused by loss of heart function.

  • Cardiomegaly, an enlarged heart, can have various causes, but is usually brought on by high blood pressure (hypertension) or coronary artery disease.

  • Cardiomyopathy is a progressive heart disease in which the heart is abnormally enlarged, thickened and/or rigid. As a result, the heart muscle's ability to pump blood is weakened, often causing heart failure and the backup of blood into the lungs or the rest of the body.

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