Thursday, 23 June 2016

Heart Diseases and Symptoms - A Mini Reference Guide

There are several types of heart diseases that can end in fatalities, therefore, understanding the warning signals your body expresses and heeding the physical symptoms, can save your life. In this blog an attempt has been made to list out the various types of heart ailments and their symptoms. This is a quick reference guide. 

Angina – also known as angina pectoris is indicative of an underlying heart condition, where the heart is receiving insufficient blood supply, which culminates in lack of oxygen supply to the muscles of the heart. This happens when one or more arteries carrying the oxygenated blood has narrowed. This condition is called Arteriosclerosis. People over the age of 50 most commonly are impacted by angina.

There are 5 types of Angina:

  1. Stable Angina – when the heart has to work harder than usual, pain occurs and if you are under treatment, then after taking your medication, the pain goes away after a few minutes. Pain occurs only due to extra exertion, therefore, it will be possible for you to predict a pattern of such occurrences and adjust your lifestyle suitably.

  2. Unstable Angina – this is a more serious form of angina and as it is unstable, there is no predictable pattern. People with unstable angina are at a risk for heart attack and when pain occurs, it should be treated as an emergency. The pain is a precursor to an imminent heart attack, so take it seriously and get to a hospital.

  3. Variant Angina – or Prinzmetal’s Angina is known to happen, generally between the hours of midnight to 8 am, when a person is at rest. It also has no predictable pattern, causes excruciating pain which is brought on by a spasm in the coronary artery. People who experience Prinzmetal’s angina, generally have a huge buildup of plaque (fat) in the arteries and when a variant angina happens, it usually is when there is a near total block.

  4. Microvascular Angina – occurs when, tiny blood vessels in the heart narrow down and stop functioning. This condition is also called Syndrome – X. Even though the larger arteries are not blocked by plaque, the dysfunctional smaller arteries trigger a microvascular angina condition. This type of angina is normally treated with medication.

  5. Atypical Angina – this type of angina often does not cause pain. However, it may cause some discomfort in the chest region and shortness of breath. Additionally, there may be fatigue or nausea, and the patient may experience indigestion, pain in the back, or neck region.
Other Common Cardiovascular Diseases

  1. Rheumatic – this heart disease is caused by rheumatic fever and often occurs during childhood. The heart, the valves of the heart, the sac surrounding the heart and the muscles of the heart get damaged; example, scarring of the valves and weakening of the heart muscles.

  2. Hypertension (high blood pressure) – Primary hypertension of unknown origins or secondary hypertension, (caused by specific infections or diseases, such as disease or damage to the kidneys, a tumor in the adrenal glands, or the blood vessels of any of these organs in the body), affects the heart.

  3. Ischemic – a cardiovascular disease that happens when the blood supply to the heart is reduced because of the narrowed passage of the coronary arteries.

  4. Cerebrovascular – refers to disease in the blood vessels of the brain, caused by either a stroke or an accident to the brain, consequently impeding blood flow to the brain.

  5. Inflammatory – the myocarditis or muscles of the heart, the pericarditis or membrane sac enclosing the heart, the endocarditis or the inner lining of the heart, become inflamed due to either a known toxic agent, or because of an infection of either known or unknown origin.

  6. Hypertensive – A bulge in the wall of the blood vessel, also known as Aneurysm can occur and grow bigger with time, consequently it could even rupture, which is a life threatening situation. Aneurysms can happen because of weak walls in the blood vessel (s) or due to high blood pressure. Aneurysms can occur anywhere in the body, in the arteries, but most commonly occur in the arteries at the base of the brain and in the abdominal aorta.

  7. Valvular – the heart is comprised of 4 chambers called the right / left atria and the right left ventricles. The blood flow, through the opening between the upper chambers or atria to the lower, more muscular chambers, the ventricle, are controlled by valves, which ensure that the blood flows in the right direction. However, several types of conditions can cause damage to the valves, which include:
   - Regurgitation or insufficient blood supply (leakage)
   - Stenosis where the valves narrow down preventing blood flow
   - Prolapse where the valves do not close evenly or smoothly

Valvular heart disease can occur due to radiation treatment from cancer, because of certain infections to the connective tissues or due to rheumatic fever.

  1. Congenital – malformations in the structures of the heart, at birth are called congenital heart diseases. Examples of congenital heart diseases are abnormal chambers in the heart, hole in the heart and abnormal valves. This maybe either genetic or due to exposure to certain elements while the baby was in the womb.

  2. Pericardial Disease – pertains to the sac that encloses the heart. The disorders that affect the pericardium are, pericardial effusion (accumulation of fluid), pericarditis (inflammation of the pericardium), and constrictive pericarditis (stiffness of the pericardium). The causes for these disorders vary.
Cardiomyopathy – disorders in the muscles of the heart, is called Cardiomyopathy. The underlying causes for this could be genetic, could occur due to infections, or for some reasons still not understood. The most common conditions are, where the heart is enlarged (idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy) and Hypertrophic (thickening of the heart muscles).  

Kauvery Hospitals

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