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Diseases of the Heart

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Heart disease is a special category of diseases and deformities which affect only the heart, as opposed to cardiovascular disease which refers to diseases affecting the heart as well as blood vessels. The human heart is a complex and vital organ, so much so that even mild conditions affecting it would quickly become life threatening without adequate care.

A few of the diseases affecting the heart are congenital heart disease, arrhythmia and myocardial infarction.

Congenital Heart Disease is a category of diseases covering a range of defects present in the heart at birth. Some of these are:

Septal defect, also called a hole in the heart. This leads to inefficient respiration as the oxygenated and deoxygenated blood gets mixed inside the heart. This could lead to another condition often considered a separate category in itself called Cyanotic Heart Disease.

Obstruction defect: This condition is rarer and encompasses any blockage inside the heart which restricts blood flow. An example could be an unformed heart valve which does not open fully.

Arrhythmia is a defect of the heart which leads to irregular heartbeats. It is classified into four categories:

Tachycardia, or fast heartbeat is when the heart beats too fast to be considered normal.

Bradycardia, or slow heartbeat is when the heart beats are too slow.

Premature Ventricular Contractions are when additional abnormal beats are discovered in between two heartbeats.

Fibrillation is when the heart beats irregularly.

The cause of arrhythmia is stress on the electrical muscles of the heart which regulate heartbeat. Arrhythmias occur to all people under certain conditions such as excitement or fear. However, paying attention to the frequency of these occurrences is important. If they occur due to a weak heart, or occur very frequently in the absence of stress, immediate medical attention is required as these can become fatal.

Myocardial infarction also called a heart attack, cardiac infarction and coronary thrombosis is the most dangerous of these diseases and the leading cause of heart disease related deaths in the world. This happens when a blood clot in one of the coronary arteries causes damage or destruction of a part of the heart muscle, or a spasm in an artery restricts blood flow to the heart muscles and damages them.

Heart disease is caused by a host of factors, such as the structure of DNA, high blood pressure and cholesterol, smoking, obesity and diabetes.

In spite of all this, heart disease is a preventable category of disease. Prevention can be as simple as following a healthy diet, exercising regularly and quitting smoking and alcohol.

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