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Know Your Heart and its Disease

There are a variety of ailments related to the heart and providing information on all the types of cardio vascular disease that could be quite a task. Yet a look at conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels can give you a broad view of cardiovascular disease.

You hear many terms like coronary heart disease, atherosclerosis or some other term and are left wondering as to what exactly all these terms mean. Medical information could confuse you. Triglyceride is simpler when mentioned as fat in your body. It is essential that you read and stay informed on some basic terminology. You could watch a few programs related to the heart and its working before going to your doctor. The word give the meaning as well; 'Cardio' is related to the heart and 'vascular' is related to the blood vessels.

Diseases of the heart are many. Some specific types are

Coronary artery disease

Arteries supply the heart muscle with blood. Obstructions in the artery is a condition called atherosclerosis, which is a leading cause of coronary heart disease. Coronary artery disease causes angia (chest pain) and myocardial infarction (heart attack).

Coronary heart disease

Coronary heart disease is a more comprehensive term. It collectively refers to coronary artery disease and its disease that are a result of the coronary artery disease like angia and myocardial infarction. Women and heart attack is another important aspect with the onset of menopause.

Cardiomyopathy

This refers to all diseases of the heart muscle. It deals with loss of heart muscle (ischemic), enlargement of heart muscle (dilated) and thickening of the heart muscle (hypertrophic). Another type of cardiomyopathy is an enlarged heart without a known cause (idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy).

Valvular heart disease

The heart consists of valves that direct the flow of blood into and out of the heart. Diseases of the heart valves are due to conditions like narrowing of heart valves (stenosis), leaking of a heart valve (regurgitation) and if the closing of the valve is not proper (prolapse).

Heart valves can also be damaged by other conditions. Rheumatic fever, connective tissue disorders, medications or treatments for cancer and even infections (infectious endocarditis).

Pericardial disease

Pericardium is a sac that encases the heart. This can get inflamed (pericarditis), stiff (constrictive pericarditis) or accumulated with fluid (pericardial effusion). These may occur together after a heart attack or may vary due to conditions.

Congenital heart disease

Congenital heart disease develops in the womb of the mother, before the birth of the baby. Narrowing of the aorta (coarctation), holes in the heart atrial or ventricular septal defect are some congenital diseases. Detection may be at the time of birth or later in life.

Heart failure

Heart failure may occur as a result of other cardiovascular conditions. It is a condition where the heart can not pump enough blood to the organs and tissues in the body. Due to this other vital organs do not get enough blood; causing shortness of breath, fluid retention and fatigue. Congestive heart failure is used if the heart failure as led to a 'fluid build up' in the body.

Blood Vessels

These are especially hollow tubes that carry blood to the organs and tissues. The types of blood vessels are Arteries, Veins, Capillaries and Lymphatic cells. Disorders related to blood vessels that affect the heart are Atherosclerosis, Arteriosclerosis, Hypertension, Stroke (ischemic and hemorrhagic), Aneurysm, Claudication with peripheral arterial disease, Vasculitis, Venous incompetence, Venous thrombosis, varicose veins and lymph edema.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis is based on a series of tests. Simple procedures are listening (stethoscope) to your heart, measuring the heart rate and the blood pressure.

o The systolic and diastolic blood pressures are measured and are around 120 and 80 respectively for a normal heart.

o Blood test to check for high cholesterol levels

o Other tests are CPR testing which gives the state of inflammation of treaties.

o ECG and EKG tests are where the electrical activity of the heart is tested to assess blood flow and heart rhythm. It is also done under stress at times to find out related Cardiac Arrhythmia ailments.

o X-Rays are used to look at the structures of the chest (lungs and heart) to evaluate proper functioning.

o Head-up tilt test is used to evaluate the causes of false spells.

o Ultrasound / Echocardiograms give pictures of the heart chambers and its valves.

A few other test methods are Cardiac Catheterization / coronary angiogram, Electrophysiology, Electron Beam (ultrafast) CT or EBCT, Cardiac biopsy (Myocardial biopsy), MRI scan and Pericardiocentesis. It is also important to take a look at high triglycerides as well as this often companies high cholesterol.

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