Heart & Circulatory Health

Heart Problems

Written by
Dr. Sneha Kannan
and medically reviewed by Dr. Ganesh P Sapkal

Published on Jul 30, 2019   -  5 min read

Abstract

Abstract

Many types of heart problems can affect the heart muscles, heart valves, or blood flow to the heart. Learn about the various types and symptoms of heart problems.

Heart Problems

Problems in the heart can be anything from defects in the blood vessels or the circulatory system, heart rhythm abnormalities, heart muscle abnormalities, and congenital birth defects. Heart problems are the leading cause of death worldwide. In the US, 1 in every 4 deaths is due to heart disease.

What Are the Types of Heart Problems?

  1. Heart diseases involving the blood vessels (atherosclerotic disease):

    1. Coronary artery disease.

    2. Peripheral arterial disease.

    3. Aortic aneurysm.

  2. Cardiomyopathy.

  3. Hypertensive heart disease.

  4. Heart failure.

  5. Pulmonary heart disease.

  6. Cardiac arrhythmias.

  7. Heart infections:

    1. Endocarditis.

    2. Myocarditis.

    3. Pericarditis.

  8. Valvular heart disease.

  9. Congenital heart disease.

  10. Rheumatic heart disease.

CORONARY ARTERY DISEASE (CAD)

CAD is caused by vascular injury caused by the buildup of plaque in the arteries supplying the heart, which is called atherosclerosis. This plaque buildup can partially or completely block the arteries, causing reduced blood flow or stopping the blood flow altogether. This causes the heart muscle supplied by the blocked artery, devoid of oxygen.

Symptoms

  • Chest pain or heaviness or tightness.

  • Arm or shoulder pain.

  • Shortness of breath.

  • Dizziness.

  • Jaw pain.

  • Nausea and vomiting.

PERIPHERAL ARTERIAL DISEASE (PAD)

PAD usually results in restricted blood flow to the legs and feet, which is caused by the buildup of plaque in the blood vessels.

Symptoms

AORTIC ANEURYSM

An aortic aneurysm is a bulge in the aorta, which is the largest artery of the body. If left untreated, an aortic aneurysm can grow and rupture.

Symptoms

  • Sudden and intense pain in the abdomen or back.

  • Dizziness.

  • Clamminess.

  • Rapid pulse.

  • Dyspnea.

  • Lightheadedness.

CARDIOMYOPATHY

Cardiomyopathy is a progressive disease that causes the heart muscle to weaken, which makes the heart muscles unable to pump blood to the rest of the body. The different types of cardiomyopathies are:

  1. Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).

  2. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

  3. Arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia (ARVD).

  4. Restrictive cardiomyopathy.

  5. Peripartum cardiomyopathy.

  6. Alcoholic cardiomyopathy.

  7. Ischemic cardiomyopathy.

  8. Noncompaction or spongiform cardiomyopathy.

  9. Pediatric cardiomyopathy.

  10. Idiopathic cardiomyopathy.

Symptoms

  • Fatigue.

  • Shortness of breath on exertion.

  • Chest pain.

  • Dizziness.

  • Syncope.

  • Hypertension.

  • Swelling of the feet, ankles, and legs.

HYPERTENSIVE HEART DISEASE

In people with high blood pressure, the heart has to work under increased pressure, which causes heart diseases like heart failure, heart muscle thickening, coronary artery disease, and other heart problems.

Symptoms

  • Angina.

  • Feeling of tightness or pressure over the chest.

  • Dyspnea.

  • Fatigue.

  • Persistent cough.

  • Shoulder, back, neck, and arm pain due to raised blood pressure.

  • Swelling of the ankle and feet.

HEART FAILURE

Here, the heart is unable to pump an adequate quantity of blood to the body. It can result from other heart conditions or after a heart attack. The types of heart failure are:

  1. Left-sided heart failure.

  2. Right-sided heart failure.

  3. Diastolic heart failure.

  4. Systolic heart failure.

Symptoms

  • Sudden weight gain.

  • Extreme tiredness.

  • Loss of appetite.

  • Leg and ankle swelling.

  • Persistent cough.

  • Abdominal swelling.

  • Veins in the neck look protruded.

  • Palpitations.

  • Irregular pulse.

PULMONARY HEART DISEASE

Pulmonary heart disease or cor pulmonale is a heart condition that results from increased blood pressure in the lungs (pulmonary hypertension), which results in enlargement and failure of the right side of the heart. Here, the arteries in the lungs get blocked or destroyed.

Symptoms

  • Dyspnea.

  • Syncope.

  • Chest pain.

  • Cyanosis - bluish discoloration of the skin.

  • Palpitations.

  • Tiredness.

CARDIAC ARRHYTHMIAS

Any irregularity in the heartbeat is called cardiac arrhythmias. Arrhythmias can be caused due to bradycardia, tachycardia, flutter or fibrillation, or premature contraction. It occurs when the electrical impulses to the heart that regulates beating do not function properly. The different types of arrhythmias are:

  1. Atrial fibrillation.

  2. Atrial flutter.

  3. Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT).

  4. Ventricular tachycardia.

  5. Ventricular fibrillation.

  6. Long QT syndrome.

Symptoms

  • Fast heartbeats (tachycardia).

  • Slow heartbeats (bradycardia).

  • Dizziness.

  • Syncope.

  • Shortness of breath.

  • Palpitations.

  • Sudden weakness.

  • Sweating.

HEART INFECTIONS

Heart infections occur when bacteria or virus or parasite or other chemical reaches the heart muscles and causes inflammation or damage to the heart linings. The types of heart infections are:

  1. Pericarditis - It is the inflammation of the membrane that surrounds the heart.

  2. Endocarditis - Inflammation of the inner lining or heart valve is called endocarditis.

  3. Myocarditis - Inflammation of the heart muscles due to a viral infection or autoimmune response.

Symptoms

  • Shortness of breath.

  • Fever.

  • Red spots under the fingernails.

  • Purple or red spots on the skin, eyes, and mouth.

  • Joint and muscle pain.

  • Blood in urine.

  • Palpitations.

VALVULAR HEART DISEASE

Diseases of the heart valves occur when one or more valves of the heart do not function properly. The heart has four main valves, namely mitral, tricuspid, aortic, and pulmonary valves, which help the blood flow in the correct direction in the heart. The problems include:

  1. Regurgitation - Here the valve does not close properly, as a result, blood flows backward.

  2. Stenosis - The valve becomes thick or stiff, causing narrowing of the valve opening.

  3. Atresia - In this condition, the valve is not formed.

Symptoms

  • Heart murmur.

  • Fatigue.

  • Dyspnea.

  • Heart arrhythmias.

  • Dizziness.

  • Ankle and feet swelling.

CONGENITAL HEART DISEASE

Heart abnormalities present at birth are called congenital heart diseases. It can cause defects in either the heart walls or heart valves or blood vessels. The most common congenital heart diseases are:

  • Ventricular septal defect.

  • Atrial septal defect.

  • Tetralogy of Fallot.

  • Single ventricle defects.

  • Pulmonary valve stenosis.

  • Patent ductus arteriosus.

  • Aortic valve stenosis.

Symptoms

  • Bluish or grayish discoloration of the skin (cyanosis).

  • Rapid and difficulty breathing.

  • Poor weight gain.

  • Swelling in legs, abdomen, and surrounding the eyes.

RHEUMATIC HEART DISEASE

Rheumatic heart disease is caused when rheumatic fever results in the thickening or stenosis of one or more heart valves.

Symptoms

  • Heart murmur.

  • Chest pain.

  • Breathlessness.

  • Tiredness.

Last reviewed at:
30 Jul 2019  -  5 min read

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