Heart Disease

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Overview

Heart disease refers to a group of diseases that primarily affect your heart. The diseases include:

  • Coronary artery disease (disease of the vessels that supply blood to the heart)
  • Congenital heart disease (diseases present since birth)
  • Arrhythmias (disorders of heart rhythm)
  • Cardiomyopathies
  • Pericardial diseases
  • Diseases of the heart valves

Causes

The causes of these diseases vary with each specific condition, however most of the heart diseases can be linked to an unhealthy lifestyle, which includes, lack of exercise, unhealthy diet, cigarette smoking, and excessive alcohol intake.

Symptoms

The symptoms vary according to the specific disease, but the following symptoms are usually associated with heart disease:

  • Chest pain or tightness or discomfort
  • Pain in the jaw, neck, or upper arm
  • Racing heart beat
  • Fluttering in your chest
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Bluish discoloration of the skin
  • Sweating
  • Swelling in the legs
  • Fatigue

Diagnosis

The following diagnostic tests are all useful in the diagnosis of heart disease:

  • Electrocardiography (ECG)
  • Echocardiogram
  • Holter monitoring
  • Stress test
  • Cardiac catheterization
  • Cardiac CT scan
  • Cardiac MRI
  • Angiography

Treatment

The general treatment of heart disease consists of the following measures:

  • Lifestyle changes – incorporate more exercise, healthy food, quit smoking, and limit alcohol intake
  • Medications
  • Medical procedures – Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), Pericardiocentesis
  • Surgery – Bypass, valve replacement
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