Cardiac Conditions

An listed alphabetically, just click each section to reveal the conditions in that category.

  • A-B

    Acute Myocardial Infarction

    A myocardial infarction (MI) is damage to the heart muscle, or myocardium, that results from a lack of blood flow to the heart. The word acute is used to describe a heart attack because symptoms and damage occur suddenly. People who suffer heart attacks require immediate medical attention. If treatment begins soon after symptoms start, heart attack deaths and heart damage can often be avoided. Each heart attack is different and may have different symptoms. Although different people make different comparisons to express the discomfort they feel, some common symptoms include: chest discomfort that may start out feeling mild and build in intensity; discomfort in other areas of the upper body; shortness of breath; breaking out in a cold sweat; feeling dizzy, light-headed or nauseated; or belching or vomiting.

    Angina Pectoris, Stable

    In a healthy heart, an increased demand for oxygen because of exercise, for example, results in increased blood flow to the heart. But when coronary arteries are narrowed or blocked by plaque (a condition called atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries), the heart does not receive enough blood to meet these periods of increased oxygen demands. Stable angina is pain associated with this unmet demand for blood and oxygen in the heart brought on by physical activity or emotional stress. Angina that occurs during or after physical exercise or emotional stress is referred to as stable because of the predictable pattern of heart pain caused by exertion or stress. Stable angina can occur intermittently for weeks, months, or even years.

    Angina Pectoris, Unstable

    Angina pectoris is chest pain or discomfort. A person may feel pain when insufficient oxygen-rich blood reaches the heart muscle. This reduced blood flow is caused by coronary heart disease (CHD), an accumulation of plaque inside the coronary blood vessels. Angina that occurs unpredictably or during rest is called unstable angina. Sometimes, unstable angina can result from a temporary blood clot that suddenly blocks blood flow to the heart. The pain subsides when the clot dissolves and blood flow resumes. If a person has experienced angina after exertion, called stable angina, and angina symptoms begin to last after exercise or occur at rest, the angina may have become unstable angina. This usually means an artery has narrowed further, often because of a blood clot. If an episode of unstable angina is the first instance of angina a person experiences, it is called new onset unstable angina.

    Aortic Valve Disease

    The heart has four valves: two on the right side of the heart (the tricuspid and pulmonary valves), and two valves on the left side of the heart (the mitral and aortic valves). Resembling flaps, each valve is made up of segments or leaflets, and each opens and closes so that blood flows through the heart in only one direction. A normal aortic valve has three leaflets that seal tightly together when closed. During contraction, the aortic valve opens to allow blood to flow from the left ventricle into the aorta. When the heart relaxes, the aortic valve closes, preventing blood from re-entering the left ventricle. When aortic valve disease is present, the valve no longer opens or closes properly. Common aortic valve problems are aortic stenosis, or narrowing, and aortic regurgitation, or leakage.

    Aortoiliac Disease

    Aortoiliac disease, also called aortoiliac occlusive disease, refers to disorders of the two major blood vessels that feed the lower half of the body–the aorta and the iliac artery. Aortoiliac disease occurs in one or more of the following locations: the lower abdominal aorta; the iliac arteries; or the point where the aorta divides and becomes the iliac arteries. Impaired circulation in these arteries can result in disorders of the pelvic organs, legs, or the kidneys, which causes a condition called renal artery disease. Additionally, aortoiliac disease can result in an aortic abdominal aneurysm (AAA), a dangerous health condition.

     Atrial Arrhythmias

    An arrhythmia is a change in the heart’s normal rate or rhythm, normally between 60 and 100 beats per minute. Arrhythmias are classified by their location in the heart and by their speed or rhythm. An atrial arrhythmia is an abnormality that occurs in one of the two upper chambers of the heart, the left or right atrium. Arrhythmias are associated with aging and typically happen more frequently during middle age. At least 10 to 15 percent of people older than 70 years experience arrhythmias.

  • C-F

    Carotid Artery Disease

    Carotid artery disease is the narrowing or blockage of the carotid arteries, which are the located in the neck and deliver oxygenated blood to the face, scalp, eyes, and brain. Carotid artery disease is caused by atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. Narrowing or blockage of the carotid arteries can prevent blood from reaching parts of the brain. This lack of blood can cause shortages of oxygen that can result in transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), also called mini-strokes, or strokes. Treatment of carotid artery disease includes lifestyle changes, medications, or surgical procedures.

    Congestive Heart Failure

    Congestive heart failure Heart failure means that the heart muscle is weakened. A weakened heart muscle may not be strong enough to pump an adequate amount of blood out of its chambers. To compensate for its diminished pumping capacity, the heart may enlarge. Commonly, the heart’s pumping inefficiency causes a buildup of blood in the lungs, a condition called pulmonary congestion.

     

    Dilated Cardiomyopathy

    Cardiomyopathy is a chronic disorder that occurs when the heart weakens and can no longer pump sufficient amounts of blood. Although there are several types of cardiomyopathy, the most common form is dilated cardiomyopathy, in which the heart enlarges to compensate for its inability to pump blood effectively. By dilating, or enlarging, the heart holds and pumps a higher volume of blood. In addition, the enlarged heart might temporarily increase the force of each heartbeat or elevate the heart rate (number of heartbeats per minute) to continue pumping an increased amount of blood.

  • H-K

    Heart Block

    Heart block is a disorder of impulse conduction, meaning that an electrical impulse is impaired from traveling along its normal pathway. Heart block is also called atrioventricular block, because it often occurs in the atrioventricular, or A-V, node, which transmits electrical signals from the atria (the upper chambers of the heart) to the ventricles (the lower chambers of the heart). Depending on its severity, A-V block may be an abnormal delay, a partial interruption, or a complete interruption of the impulse. Delays often have no symptoms, but can cause the heart rate to fall so far below normal that it causes dizziness or fainting. Certain forms of intermittent block may occur in normal people during sleep and cause heart rates of 40 beats per minute and even lower.

    High Cholesterol

    High cholesterol means that levels of cholesterol in the blood are raised, which can contribute to plaque build-up n artery walls. High cholesterol is a lipid disorder. Physicians use the term lipid disorder to describe several conditions in which high concentrations of lipids (fats) exist in the bloodstream an din part by inherited disorders. Elevated levels of cholesterol in the blood can be caused in part by a diet high in fat and cholesterol-laden foods. Although there is no one standard for high cholesterol, physicians have established ranges of cholesterol levels that are useful in assessing a person’s risk of developing coronary heart disease.

    Hypertension

    Blood pressure is the outward pressure that blood exerts on the walls of the arteries as it flows through them. This outward pressure is determined by how much blood the heart pumps and the resistance of artery walls to the blood. Blood that enters and flows through arteries easily results in normal blood pressure. When the heart faces resistance and it must work harder to pump blood through the body, high blood pressure results. Hypertension is high blood pressure that persists over time.

    Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

    Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a condition in which the heart muscle becomes excessively thick, making it difficult for blood to flow in and out of the heart. In most cases, the left ventricular muscle becomes abnormally large, although the septum, or wall between the atria and the ventricles, can also become enlarged and obstruct blood flow out of the heart, a condition called hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy. People usually develop hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in their teens to early 20s. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can sometimes cause an arrhythmia, a disturbance in the heart’s rate or rhythm. In addition, people with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy are susceptible to endocarditis, an infection of the lining of the heart.

    Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

    Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a condition in which the heart muscle becomes excessively thick, making it difficult for blood to flow in and out of the heart. In most cases, the left ventricular muscle becomes abnormally large, although the septum, or wall between the atria and the ventricles, can also become enlarged and obstruct blood flow out of the heart, a condition called hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy. People usually develop hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in their teens to early 20s. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can sometimes cause an arrhythmia, a disturbance in the heart’s rate or rhythm. In addition, people with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy are susceptible to endocarditis, an infection of the lining of the heart.

  • L-O

    Lipid Disorders

    Physicians use the terms lipid disorders to describe several conditions in which high concentrations of lipids (fats) exist in the bloodstream. Lipid disorders can be caused by genetics, lifestyle, or a combination of both. Ahterosclerosis, which is the buildup of fat and cholesterol-laden plaque in the walls of the heart’s arteries, can result from lipid disorders.

    Lower Extremity Disease

    Lower extremity disease is a condition in which a medium to large artery that supplies oxygen-rich blood to the legs and feet becomes partially or completely blocked. Lower extremity disease can be acute, meaning that it comes on quickly and ends. However, it is usually chronic, meaning it progresses slowly over a long period of time.

     

    Mitral Valve Disease

    Mitral valve disease occurs when the mitral valve is unable to open or close properly and includes mitral stenosis, mitral regurgitation, and mitral valve prolapse.

  • P-Z

    Pericardial Disease

    Pericardial disease is a disorder that involves the pericardium, the double-layered fibrous membrane surrounding the heart. Major disorders of the pericardium include: Acute pericarditis, inflammation of the pericardium; Cardiac tamponade, a rapid or large accumulation of fluid in the pericardial sac; and Chronic constrictive pericarditis, the persistence of pericarditis. Both chronic and acute pericarditis can be life threatening. If a person experiences any of the symptoms associated with pericardial disease, he or she should seek immediate medical attention.

    Pulmonary Embolism

    A pulmonary embolism is the blockage or closure of a pulmonary artery or one of its branches by an abnormal object, most frequently a blood clot. The clot typically travels with the flow of blood from a leg vein to the site where it creates a blockage. When a pulmonary artery becomes severely blocked, blood oxygen levels fall, and blood pressure in the lungs and pulmonary arteries can rise so high that the heart may not be able to pump enough blood out of its chambers.

     

    Renal Artery Disease

    Renal artery disease is a condition in which an artery leading to one or both of the kidneys becomes blocked. This disease occurs mostly in men between the ages of 50 and 70. Most of the time, the disease affects the arteries leading to one of the kidneys. But in about one-third of the cases, the arteries leading to both kidneys are affected. Left untreated, it can cause permanent kidney damage.

     

    Upper extremity disease

    In upper extremity disease, an artery between the chest and the hand becomes partially or completely blocked. Upper extremity disease can be acute, meaning that it comes on quickly. However, it is usually chronic, meaning it progresses slowly over a long period of time. One early symptom is pain when moving the arms. As the disease progresses, pain can occur in the arms at rest. In advanced stages, the disease may cause skin ulcers and cell death from lack of oxygen and nutrients. One of the main causes of upper extremity disease is atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.

     

    Venous Disease

    Venous diseases are problems or conditions with the body’s veins. Problems affecting veins occur because of inflammation, blood clots, obstruction, or stretching. There are four types of venous diseases: deep vein thrombosis (DVT); chronic venous insufficiency; superficial thrombophlebitis (also called phlebitis); and varicose veins.

    Ventricular Arrhythmias

    An arrhythmia is a change in the heart’s normal rate or rhythm. Typically, the heart beats with a regular rhythm at a rate between 60 and 100 beats per minute. Problems with the heart’s electrical system or the heart’s response to the electrical signal can interrupt the heart’s coordination and cause arrhythmias. Ventricular arrhythmias are abnormalities that affect these ventricles, or lower chambers of the heart. There are two types of ventricular arrhythmias: disorders of impulse generation and disorders of impulse conduction. With disorders of impulse generation, the heartbeat originates in a place other than the sino-atrial node, the heart’s natural pacemaker. With disorders of impulse generation, the electrical impulses are partially or completely prevented from traveling their normal pathway.