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Types of Heart Disease

Like most cases in the medical world, the term “heart disease” is not an all-encompassing term everyone with heart problems falls beneath.

In fact, there are many types of heart disease we should be aware of as we age, as we learn about our family medical history, or as we strive to improve our health.

Ranging from congenital diseases to problems that develop as the result of lifestyle or other health problems, cardiovascular disease, or heart disease, is still the leading cause of death in America.

Understanding the different types of heart disease can help you understand how to prevent a problem and how to treat a problem when it comes to your heart’s health. We’ve listed a number of different types of heart disease here along with signs you should look for.

Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)

This type of heart disease mainly affects your extremities (legs, arms, hands, feet) when hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and plaque build up and decrease oxygen-rich blood flow to those extremities.

PAD can cause swelling, ulcers, cramping and pain, and cause trouble with wound healing. Although most types of heart disease focus on the heart, this disease usually affects the arteries throughout the body.

While plaque build up is the typical cause of this disease, it can also be caused by blood vessel inflammation, injury to your limbs or even unusual anatomy of your ligaments or muscles.

Factors such as smoking, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, aging, family history and high levels of homocysteine, a protein component that helps build and maintain tissue, can lead to PAD.

Arrhythmia

Arrhythmia isn’t a malfunction of the blood vessels, but rather an abnormality in the electrical system that keeps your heart beating at a healthy rate.

Arrhythmia causes the heart to beat irregularly—faster, slower, or erratically—and can be fatal if not treated. While having an arrhythmia is very common, anyone who experiences something irregular with their heartbeat should have it checked out by a medical professional.

Noticeable arrhythmia symptoms include a fluttering in the chest, a racing heartbeat, a slow heartbeat, chest pain, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, dizziness, fainting or near fainting.

By getting the right treatment, a heart arrhythmia can often be controlled and irregularities can often be fixed.

Coronary Artery Disease

Coronary artery disease is caused by the specific blockage of the coronary artery, which deprives the heart muscles of blood and oxygen

Cardiomyopathy

There are three different types of cardiomyopathy, and they all have to do with abnormalities in the heart muscle that make it harder for the heart to pump blood.

Dilated cardiomyopathy occurs when the left ventricle of the heart becomes enlarged and unable to pump blood out of the heart effectively.

This type of cardiomyopathy is the most common, and may even come as the result of coronary artery disease.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy is an abnormality of the heart regarding thickening of the heart muscle, which makes it difficult for the heart to expand and contract to pump blood.

This type of cardiomyopathy often presents itself during childhood, and is the result of a genetic predisposition.

Restrictive cardiomyopathy has to do with the heart muscle’s elasticity. When the muscle hardens, it cannot move properly in order to pump blood, therefore restriction circulation and blood supply to the rest of the body.

Pericarditis

Pericarditis occurs when the protective sac or casing around your heart (the pericardium) is irritated and inflamed.

This happens when the layers of the protective sac rub against one another. Most cases of pericarditis are mild, and even severe cases rarely involve invasive surgery.

Heart Murmur

Often, a heart murmur is not cause for alarm. It is simply the sound of blood being pumped by the heart.

In more serious cases, however, a heart murmur might indicate overworked or damaged heart valves.

Marfan Syndrome

Marfan Syndrome is an inherited disorder that weakens connective tissue.

Since connective tissue is everywhere, Marfan Syndrome affects everything from the nervous system to your bones and eyes.

However, a large concern of Marfan Syndrome is how much it affects the aorta, a major artery that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body.