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Heart Disease Health Center

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Understanding Heart Disease -- the Basics

What Is Heart Disease?

The human heart is built for amazing endurance, but like any other part of the body, it is vulnerable to breakdowns.

Heart problems vary widely in their nature and severity. They may be transient or chronic, slow-developing or sudden, merely inconvenient or fatal.

Understanding Heart Disease

Find out more about heart disease:



Diagnosis and Treatment

Some types of heart disease, closely linked to diet and lifestyle choices, are preventable; others are due to heredity, infections, or other uncontrollable factors.

One out of every three Americans will ultimately die of heart disease -- the daily toll is approximately 2,500 people. Fortunately, the death rate is declining steadily (by about 40% since 1960) because of improved medical care and widespread public education about risk factors.

the basics on heart disease

The following is a list of the most common types of heart disease:

Coronary Artery Disease

Coronary artery disease, the most common of all heart problems, is characterized by blockages in the coronary arteries -- the arteries that supply blood to the heart -- that result in a reduction in blood flow to the heart muscle, depriving it of vital oxygen. Usually, the disease stems from atherosclerosis, a condition sometimes called hardening of the arteries.

Coronary heart disease can result in painful episodes of angina (chest pain) or a heart attack or, in the worst case, sudden death. Coronary artery disease can also cause heart failure if there has been a heart attack that damaged the heart muscle.

There are many things that are associated with a higher risk of developing coronary disease:

Coronary artery disease does not discriminate by gender. Although men tend to develop coronary heart disease at an earlier age than women, women are just as likely to die from it.

basics on heart disease

Heart Arrhythmias

Arrhythmias are disturbances in the heart's normal beating pattern. The irregularities occur in many forms, each with its own potential causes and treatments. Serious arrhythmias are a frequent consequence of other heart ailments, but may also occur independently.

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