Heart and cardiovascular diseases
Cardiovascular disease, sometimes called CVD, is a term covering diseases of the heart and blood vessels.
Cardiovascular disease conditions include:
Coronary artery disease
Coronary artery disease (CAD) is atherosclerosis, or narrowing, of the arteries that provide vital oxygen and nutrients to the heart.
Abnormal heart rhythms
The heart is an amazing organ. It beats in a steady, even rhythm, about 60 to 100 times each minute - that's about 100,000 times each day. But, sometimes your heart gets out of rhythm. An irregular or abnormal heartbeat is called an arrhythmia. An arrhythmia - also called a dysrhythmia - can involve a change in the rhythm, producing an uneven heartbeat, or a change in the rate, causing a very slow or very fast heartbeat.
The term "heart failure" can be frightening. It does not mean the heart has "failed" or stopped working. It means the heart does not pump as well as it should.
About 900,000 people are affected by heart failure in the UK. Each year, more men and women are diagnosed with the condition
Heart valve disease
Your heart valves lie at the exit of each of your four heart chambers and maintain one-way blood-flow through your heart.
Examples of heart valve disease include mitral valve prolapse, aortic stenosis, and mitral valve stenosis.
Congenital heart disease
Congenital heart disease is a type of defect in one or more structures of the heart or blood vessels that occurs before birth.
Congenital heart disease affects up to 9 out of every 1,000 children born in the UK. Congenital heart defects may produce symptoms at birth, during childhood and sometimes not until adulthood.
In most cases it’s not known why they occur. Heredity may play a role as well as exposure of the foetus during pregnancy to certain viral infections, alcohol, or drugs.
Cardiomyopathies are diseases of the heart muscle itself. People with cardiomyopathies - sometimes called an enlarged heart - have hearts that are abnormally enlarged, thickened, or stiffened. As a result, the heart's ability to pump blood is weakened. Without treatment, cardiomyopathies worsen over time and often lead to heart failure and abnormal heart rhythms.
Pericarditis is inflammation of the lining that surrounds the heart. It is a rare condition often caused by an infection.
Aortic disease and Marfan syndrome
The aorta is the large artery that leaves the heart and provides oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. These diseases and conditions can cause the aorta to dilate (widen) or dissect (tear), increasing the risk of future life-threatening events:
- Atherosclerosis - narrowing of the arteries
- Hypertension - high blood pressure
- Genetic conditions such as Marfan syndrome
- Connective tissue disorders - that affect the strength of the blood vessel walls - such as, scleroderma, osteogenesis imperfecta, polycystic kidney disease, and Turner's syndrome
People with aortic disease should be treated by an experienced team of cardiovascular specialists and surgeons.