By Dr Balaji Ramagiri, Cardiology
Heart disease can be defined as a range of conditions affecting the heart; ailments under this umbrella include problems in heart rhythm (arrhythmias), blood vessel disorders such as coronary artery disease, and congenital heart defects among others.
The common indications of heart diseases are as follows:
- Cardiovascular (atherosclerotic) diseases are caused by blocked, stiffened and narrowed blood vessels that inhibit sufficient flow of blood to the brain, heart and other body parts. It is accompanied by symptoms such as pain in the jaws, neck, throat, back or upper abdomen, shortness of breath and chest pain (angina).
- Heart arrhythmias or abnormal heartbeat is an illness where the heart beats either slowly and irregularly or faster than the normal rate. Some of its signs include fainting, dizziness, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, discomfort in the chest and a sensation of either very slow or a racing heartbeat.
- Congenital heart defects are the ones present since birth. It exhibits signs such as troubled breath, swelling in the abdomen, legs or the region surrounding the eyes and exhaustion.
- Cardiomyopathy is the stiffening and thickening of the heart muscles. However, this condition does not exhibit any trait as such. Worsening of the condition may lead to dizziness, irregular heartbeats, and fatigue, swelling of the feet, ankles and legs, breathlessness and fainting.
- Heart infections can be of various types such as the one affecting the region around the heart, muscular layer in the middle of the heart wall or the inner membrane separating the valves from the chambers of the heart. The symptoms include persistent dry cough, changes in heart rhythm, inflammation of the legs or abdomen, and fever.
- The heart constitutes of four valves that open and close to direct blood flow through the heart. Any mal-function of any of these valves can produce symptoms such as chest pain, swollen ankles or feet, irregular heartbeat, troubled breathing and fatigue.