Almost everyone will develop heart disease of one form or another if they live long enough. Here are some of the more common forms and a little bit about them as well as some links to some of my favorite resources.
Sometimes a person can have one of these conditions and their doctor is coding and billing with the condition and the person doesn’t even know it. Doctors do not always make it clear to their patients what conditions they have. Other times the doctor may clearly state it, but the patient hears only part of it or doesn’t understand what is being said.
Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary arteries are arteries that supply blood flow to the heart muscle. Coronary artery disease is when these become hardened or narrowed. Sometimes coronary artery disease is referred to as arteriosclerosis, atherosclerosis or more simply CAD.
Heart failure has different causes. As a heart ages it naturally declines in elasticity and strength. Heart failure can be acute (sudden) or chronic (ongoing) or acute on chronic (a sudden episode of someone who has chronic failure). It can be systolic (pumping) failure or diastolic (filling) failure or both.
Although it sounds like immediate death people can live many years with heart failure.
Rhythmic problems with the heart are due to a problem with the electrical pathways of the heart. In the heart’s normal pathway the sinoatrial (SA) node is the “pacemaker” of the heart and initiates the conduction of electrical impulses to the cardiac muscle cells. If the sinoatrial node stops functioning properly the atrioventricular (AV) node can assume the role of pacemaker. If either of these two nodes fail other heart muscle cells can conduct electrical impulses through the heart muscle.
However, any time the normal pathway is altered the rate of the heart’s beat is usually changed as well which can also alter the heart’s effectiveness in pumping blood. Any alteration will be apparent on an electrocardiogram and is known as an arrhythmia.
Resource Links For Heart Disease
Your Guide to Lowering Your Cholesterol with TLC – U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Your Guide to Lowering Your Blood Pressure with DASH – U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Includes recipes and a week with the DASH eating plan.
In Brief: Your Guide to Lowering Your Blood Pressure with Dash – National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
At A Glance Lowering Your Blood Pressure with DASH – National Heart Lung and Blood Institute
Feature photo by Bruno Nascimento.