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Explaining Heart Disease

By: Jo Johnson - Updated: 1 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
Heart Disease Cardiomyopathy Heart

Heart disease is a very wide term given to loosely describe many disorders of the heart, surrounding tissues and the blood supply, it is one of the leading causes of death in adults and although it can affect anyone of any age or background, it can be highly influenced by lifestyle choices.

Types of Heart Disease

There are many different types of heart conditions that fall under this umbrella and include, but are not limited to, cardiomyopathy, heart failure, inflammatory disorders, coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease and congenital heart disease.


Cardiomyopathy is used to describe disorders of and deterioration of the actual muscular tissue of the heart. There are many types of cardiomyopathy, each having its own causes, treatments and preventative methods.

Heart Failure

Heart failure occurs as the hearts ability to function deteriorates and is unable to pump the blood around the body as effectively as it once did.

Inflammatory Heart Disease

Inflammatory disorders of the heart occur often as a result of infection and disorders such as endocarditis and myocarditis fall into this category. The tissues of the heart become irritated and inflamed and can also affect the tissues surrounding the heart as well.

Coronary Heart Disease

If the blood supply to the tissues of the heart itself become blocked or compromised such as in the coronary arteries, this is called coronary heart disease and heart attacks are a common consequence of this occurring.

Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease is associated with damage or dysfunction to the blood vessels that flow in and out of the heart, supplying blood to the rest of the body. It is another wide term and there are many sub-categories within this domain.

Congenital Heart Disease

Congenital heart disease means problems that have existed since birth often due to developmental or genetic factors, most that have occurred during foetal growth and development in the womb.

Treating Heart Disease

As heart disease encompasses many sub-categories of the illness, it would be impossible to briefly describe the treatment options. Each individual will have their own treatment plan, investigations and interventions depending on the causes, severity and existing medical conditions. If chest pain and breathing troubles occur at any time, immediate medical assistance should be sought as this may indicate a very serious cardiac condition that needs urgent attention.

Preventing Heart Disease

Although some conditions that fall under the term ‘heart disease’ cannot necessarily be prevented, especially those that are congenital, there are ways to help maintain a healthy heart and protect it from developing some of the mentioned conditions or from symptoms worsening.

These methods mainly involved the selection of healthy lifestyle options such as maintaining a steady healthy weight that is recommended for your age build and participation of activities, refraining from smoking and drinking heavily, looking after existing medical conditions as far as is possible, keeping active and managing stress levels effectively.Regular check-ups with your GP will highlight any existing areas that may need addressing, along with treatment for any existing conditions.

Heart disease is a very broad term given to describe a number of cardiac conditions and is a useful expression for the general public that avoids the use of medical terminology and helps individuals understand their condition.

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