“A” is for arrhythmia. “B” is for bradycardia. “C” is for cardiomyopathy. When it comes to the A, B, Cs of heart disease, there are enough conditions to fill more than a few bowls of alphabet soup. Here is a primer for some common heart-related issues and types of heart diseases.
Angina is chest pain or discomfort that occurs because the heart muscle does not get enough blood. There are two types of angina: stable, which can occur during physical exertion or under stress; and unstable, which can happen at any time for no apparent reason.
Aortic aneurysm occurs when a bulge forms in the wall of the aorta.
Arrhythmias are disorders of the heart rate that cause the heart to beat too fast, too slow, or with an irregular rhythm.
Atherosclerosis is the process in which cholesterol, calcium and other substances build up inside an artery and reduce blood flow.
Atrial fibrillation is a type of arrhythmia that causes very fast and irregular contractions in the top right chamber of the heart (atria). It can cause blood to pool and clot inside the heart and increase the risk for heart attack and stroke.
Bradycardia, or bradyarrhythmia, is a heart rate that is slower than normal (usually 60 beats per minute for an adult).
Cardiomyopathy is a thickening of the heart muscle that makes it more stiff than normal. There are three forms of the disease: dilated, the most common type, in which the left ventricle becomes enlarged and cannot pump blood as easily through the heart; hypertrophic, when the heart muscle experiences abnormal growth or thickening and the pumping chamber may shrink; and restrictive, the heart muscle becomes less elastic and cannot pump properly between heartbeats.
Congenital heart defects are problems with the structure of the heart that are present at birth.
Coronary artery disease is a condition in which plaque builds up inside the arteries that supply blood and oxygen to the heart.
Coronary artery spasm is a temporary, sudden narrowing of one of the arteries that supplies blood to the heart.
Endocarditis is an infection of the inner membrane that separates the heart’s chambers and valves.
Heart attack, or acute myocardial infarction, occurs when a blood clot blocks blood flow through the coronary artery causing a section of the heart muscle to die or get damaged because of reduced blood supply.
Heart failure happens when the heart cannot pump enough blood efficiently throughout the body. This does not mean that the heart has stopped, but it that cannot pump blood to meet the body’s needs.
Myocarditis is an infection of the muscular middle layer of the walls of the heart.
Pericarditis is an infection that affects the tissue around the heart.
Sudden cardiac arrest is the abrupt, unanticipated loss of heart function, the ability to breathe and consciousness.
Tachycardia occurs when the heart rate is faster than normal.
For more information about these and other heart conditions, talk with your doctor or visit the American Heart Association website at www.heart.org.
For a free physician referral, please call (305) 441-6877.