Heart disease

Last updated date: 28-Aug-2023

Originally Written in English

Heart Disease

Heart disease comprises medical conditions affecting the heart, muscles, blood vessels, and valves. It can also affect the internal electrical passages that control muscular contraction. 

Generally, heart disease is among the major causes of death across the world, according to CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). This is regardless of gender, race, or ethnic group. 

While there are various types of deadly heart disease, most of them are relatively preventable. Early adoption of healthy lifestyle habits can enable you to live a more extended life with a healthy heart. 


Types of Heart Disease 

The term "heart disease" refers to a variety of cardiovascular issues. It thus encompasses a wide range of diseases and ailments. The following are some of the different types of heart disease;

  • Coronary artery disease

This is the most common type of heart disease, also referred to as coronary heart disease. It occurs when plaque builds up in the arteries that carry blood towards the heart. They stiffen and narrow as a result of this. Cholesterol and other components are usually present in plaque. 

With time, the heart's blood flow reduces and gets limited oxygen and nutrients.

  • Arrhythmia

This is an irregular heart rhythm. It develops when the electric impulses regulating the heart pulse don't function properly. The heart can thus beat excessively fast, too slowly, or in an irregular pattern as a result of this. 

  • Congenital heart defect

Congenital heart defect refers to heart abnormalities that are usually present at birth. It can cause serious anatomical defects, including the absence of a ventricle or abnormal connections between the heart's main arteries.

  • Dilated cardiomyopathy

This is a condition in which the heart chambers get dilated, causing the heart muscle to stretch and become thin. Previous arrhythmias, heart attacks, and toxins are the most prevalent reasons for dilated cardiomyopathy. On the other hand, genetics may as well be a contributing factor. 

  • Heart failure 

Heart failure means that a person's heart is still functioning, although not appropriately as it should. A congestive heart failure is a form of heart failure that develops when the pumping or relaxing functions of the heart are impaired. 


Signs and Symptoms of Heart Disease

Signs and Symptoms of Heart Disease

The signs and symptoms of heart disease vary depending on the type. Some heart problems, on the other hand, have no symptoms at all. The following are thus the most common symptoms that might indicate heart disease; 

  • Chest pain or angina
  • Breathing difficulties 
  • Weariness and lightheadedness
  • Swelling as a result of fluid retention (edema)

A congenital heart abnormality in children can cause symptoms like cyanosis or a blue tint to the skin, as well as incapacity to work out.

On the other hand, women tend to experience varying heart disease signs and symptoms, unlike men. However, some heart disease symptoms in women can be mistaken for other problems and conditions like menopause, depression, and anxiety. 

The common symptoms of heart disease in women include:

  • Paleness 
  • Dizziness 
  • Breathing problems, such as shortness of breath or shallow breathing
  • Lightheadedness 
  • Anxiety
  • Passing out or fainting
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Jaw ache, back pain, and neck pain 
  • Cold sweats 
  • Indigestion 


Causes of Heart Disease 

The causes of heart disease can vary depending on the specific form of the condition. However, when the following conditions exist, heart disease can develop; 

  • Injury or damage to the entire or a portion of the heart
  • An issue with the blood vessels that connect the heart to the rest of the body 
  • Insufficient oxygen and nutrients reaching the heart
  • A disorder with the heart's rhythm

There are heart disease genetic aspects in some situations. Other lifestyle variables and medical disorders, on the other hand, can as well raise the risk. These are some of the possible heart disease risk factors

Age: As you get older, you're more likely to have damaged and restricted arteries, as well as a weakened or thicker heart muscle. 

Gender: Men have a higher risk of heart disease than women. However, after menopause, women's risk tends to increase.

Smoking: Nicotine constricts blood vessels, while carbon monoxide damages the inner lining, increasing the risk of atherosclerosis. Smokers also have a higher risk of heart attacks, unlike nonsmokers.

Poor dietary habits: A high-fat, high-salt, high-sugar, and high-cholesterol diet can all contribute to the occurrence of heart disease.

Family history: A family history of heart disease raises the chances of developing coronary artery disease. This is particularly when one of your parents was diagnosed at a young age.

High blood pressure: Increased blood pressure that is uncontrolled can cause your arteries to stiffen or thicken. Hence, this narrows the veins through which blood moves.

Diabetes: Diabetes raises your chances of developing heart disease. Obesity and high blood pressure are common risk factors in both illnesses.

High cholesterol levels in the blood: Plaque development and atherosclerosis are both increased by high cholesterol levels in the blood. 

Obesity: Certain heart disease risk factors are often worsened by excess weight.

Inactivity on the physical level: Lack of exercise is linked to various types of heart disease, as well as some of the disease's other risk factors. 

Stress: Unresolved stress can harm your arteries and exacerbate other heart disease risk factors.


Heart Disease Diagnosis 

Heart Disease Diagnosis 

Your doctor or cardiologist can recommend the following when it comes to heart disease diagnosis;

Physical examination:

Your doctor will begin by performing a physical examination and taking a detailed account of your symptoms. After that, they will inquire about your family's medical history as well as your own. In some heart conditions, genetics may play a role. Hence, share any information with your provider if you have a blood relative who has heart disease. 

Blood tests:

Blood tests are commonly requested. They can assist your doctor in determining your levels of cholesterol and in identifying indicators of inflammation. 

Noninvasive tests and procedures:

There are various noninvasive procedures that cardiologists can use to diagnose heart disease. They include; 

  • An electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG): Doctors use this test to track the electrical activity of your heart and look for any anomalies.
  • Carotid ultrasound: The doctor may recommend this ultrasound exam to get a comprehensive ultrasound of the carotid arteries.
  • CT scan of the heart: This imaging procedure provides your doctor a highly comprehensive x-ray image of your heart.
  • Echocardiogram: This is an ultrasound examination that can provide a detailed view of the structure of your heart.
  • Holter monitor: This is a device that records heartbeats. You may be asked to put on this heart rate monitor for at least 24 to 48 hours. It enables the doctor to obtain a more comprehensive picture of the heart's activities. 
  • MRI of the heart: A heart MRI, just like a CT scan, can produce comprehensive heart and blood vessels pictures. 
  • Stress test: This examination is usually done while doing something demanding like running, riding a stationary bike, or walking. The provider can monitor the activity of the heart in response to variations in physical exertion during the test. 
  • Tilt table test: Your doctor may recommend this test in case you have recently fainted or felt lightheaded upon standing up or sitting down.


Invasive tests and procedures:

If a physical examination, blood tests, and noninvasive testing don't reveal anything, the physician might want to check the inside of your body. This is to know the underlying cause of any strange symptoms. The following are examples of invasive tests:

  • Coronary angiography and cardiac catheterization
  • Electrophysiology study


Heart Disease Treatment Options 

Your treatment will be determined by the type of heart condition you are suffering from. The following are the most common heart disease treatment options:

Lifestyle modification:

Healthy lifestyle options can be helpful in the prevention of heart disease. Furthermore, they can help with the treatment of the problem while preventing it from worsening. Medical providers often recommend changing your routine diet first as you make lifestyle adjustments. 

In general, you can lower your heart disease risks by making the following changes; 

  • Consuming low sodium and a low-fat diet 
  • Quitting smoking if you are a smoker
  • Doing at least 20 to 30 minutes of moderate exercise the majority of the weekdays 
  • Reducing intake of alcohol 


The doctor can prescribe certain medications to help treat some forms of heart disease. They can either suggest drugs that control or cure your condition. In other cases, they may as well prescribe medications to assist in slowing down or stopping complication risks.

Surgery and other procedures:

When medications and lifestyle changes fail to cure your heart disease, the doctor can recommend surgery. The kind of surgical procedure you undergo will be based on the heart disease type and the degree of damage to the heart. 



Heart disease refers to any medical condition that affects the heart. It is the leading cause of death and also the main cause of disability among patients. 

Most types of heart disease are untreatable and irreversible. It necessitates lifelong treatment and close monitoring. Medications, surgical treatments, and lifestyle modifications can all help alleviate most symptoms associated with heart disease.