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Heart diseases

Everyone knows about heart diseases. But do we know which diseases are we talking about exactly?

Heart diseases have 3 main groups: congenital heart diseases, inflammatory heart diseases and coronary heart diseases.

1. Congenital heart diseases

One in every 100 new-born baby has congenital heart disease, the majority of these can be cured by operation. A fetus has a heart similar to one-hollow shaft. It undergoes the fastest evolution at the age of four-eight weeks, therefore this is the most critical period considering the development of congenital heart diseases.

Besides genetic factors, the causes of congenital heart diseases are infections during early pregnancy (e.g. rubella), nutrients/materials causing malformations, lack of oxygen or ionizing radiation. Its symptoms are shortness of breath during physical strain, arrhythmias, suspicion to inflammation of the endocardium, the lips, the nails and the skin becomes cyanotic, the base of the nail becomes thicker, increased number of red blood cells and tiredness.

The different defects in the case of congenital heart diseases are atrial and ventricular septal defects, transposition of the great vessels, tetralogy of Fallot, persistent truncus arteriosus, etc.

2. Sore heart diseases

The wall of the heart consists of three different parts: endocardium, myocardium and pericardium (you can learn more about our heart here). Depending on which part of the heart flares up, we can talk about endocarditis, myocarditis and pericarditis.

The cause of these diseases can be virus, bacteria, parasite, fungus, allergic reaction and autoimmune disease.

Endocarditis is the inflammation of the inner layer of heart and heart valves because of the reproduction of the microorganisms in blood. If it is not treated in time, heart valves can be injured irreversibly. Other dangerous aspect of the disease is that the vegetation of the microorganisms can come off and travel with the blood blocking smaller veins or causing thrombosis.

Symptoms: fever, muscle and joint pain, loss of weight, sweating, weakness of limbs, paralysis, sight and speech disorder, strong headache, tiredness, choking, stomach pain on the left side of the body, chills, weakness, etc.

It can be treated with antibiotics or heart operation.

Myocarditis

Myocarditis is the inflammation of heart muscle (you can learn more here). It is mostly caused by common viruses and decreases heart’s functioning.

Symptoms: in case of mild inflammation it can be without any symptoms or in more severe cases it can cause fever, chest pain, heart failure and even sudden death. Symptoms in case of infants tend to be nonspecific, such as malaise, poor appetite, chronic cough, etc.

Treatment: primarily you should rest more and intake less salt, secondarily medicinal treatment, hospitalization or in the most severe cases implantable defibrillator.

Pericarditis

Pericarditis is the inflammation of the fibrious sac surrounding the heart, the pericardium. In most cases it is caused by virus infection. Through this process liquid gets into the layers of the pericardium threatening the normal functionality of the heart.

Symptoms: sharp chest pain, which is worse in the supine position or upon breathing in, fever, chills, muscle pain, all of these can radiate to the back, neck or the arms.

This disease can only be treated with medications.

3. Coronary artery disease

In case of these diseases the coronary arteries which nurture the heart are narrowed or calcified. Through this the oxygen saturation of the heart gets injured.

There are two types of coronary artery diseases: the angina pectoris and the myocardial infarction. The lack of oxygen can also cause cardiac failure, arrhythmia and sudden cardiac death (you can learn more here) too.

Angina pectoris

The angina pectoris is a syndrome that is caused by the ischemia of the heart muscle mostly through the obstruction of the coronary arteries.

The main symptoms is the discomfort of the chest, a squeezing, burning sensation, other than that there is breathlessness, sweating, pain throughout the upper parts of the body. These symptoms are augmented when moving.

Nytroglicerin can treat the disease, it can also immediately ease the symptoms. Treatments can be medicines, bypass operation or the widening of the artery.

Myocardial infarction

This is a more severe type of coronary artery diseases which cause is the damage to the heart muscle. It involves the rupture of an atherosclerotic plaque which leads to the complete blockage of a coronary artery (you can learn more about our heart here). This leads to chest pain and discomfort. Symptoms are chest pain which radiates to other parts of the body. This pain is the most often described as a sensation of squeezing, pressure or tightness. The disaese can also cause shortness of breath, sweating, nausea or faint.

Treatment mainly involves the change of lifestyle, percutaneous coronary intervention or in the case of angina pectoris medicinal treatment.

The patient’s lifestyle greatly affects the development of myocardial infarction. The risk factors originating from it are smoking, obesity, lack of exercise and stress.

4. Cardiac Arrhythmia

We can talk about cardiac arrhythmia, when the heart doesn’t function properly, beating too fast, too slow or irregularly.

The risk factors that increases the chance of arrhythmia’s development are as follows: diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking, too much caffeine, too much alcohol, stress, drugs. The main causes of arrhythmia are scarred heart muscle (you can learn more here) after a myocardial infarction, heart valve or coronary artery disease, thinner walls of the atria.

In most cases there is an abnormal awareness of heartbeat, called palpitations, which can be frequent, infrequent or continuous although some of them aren’t necessarily harmful. Some arrhythmias do not cause any kind of symptom, but some of these are associated with adverse events.

It can be treated with medicines or a pacemaker.

5. Heart failure

This heart disease occurs when the heart can’t pump enough blood (you can learn more here about our heart) to suffice the needs of the body. It can develop if either the structure or the functioning of the heart gets damaged. It can affect either half of the heart or both. Although, it always originates from the left half of the heart, from the left atria.

Systolic dysfunction is the more readily recognized one. It is the failure of the pump function of the heart caused by the decrease of the ventricular contraction.

Diastolic dysfunction is described as the failure of the ventrical to relax resulting in a stiffer ventricular wall which causes inadequate filling of the ventricle.

There are different symptoms depending on which type of heart failure are we talking about. The main symptoms are shortness of breath, orthopnea and paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea in the case of the left-sided heart failure. In the case of right-sided heart failure the symptom is mainly edema starting from the ankles.

Treatment can be medicinal or by operation.

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