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Heart Disease

Heart Disease

Heart disease is an umbrella term for a number of different diseases which affect the heart and as of 2007 it is the leading cause of death in the United States.[1]

Types of heart disease

Cardiomyopathy

Cardiomyopathy literally means "heart muscle disease". It is the deterioration of the function of the myocardium (i.e., the actual heart muscle) for any reason. People with cardiomyopathy are often at risk of arrhythmia and/or sudden cardiac death.

  • Extrinsic cardiomyopathies - cardiomyopathies where the primary pathology is outside the myocardium itself. Most cardiomyopathies are extrinsic, because by far the most common cause of a cardiomyopathy is ischemia. The World Health Organization calls these specific cardiomyopathies:
    • Alcoholic cardiomyopathy
    • Coronary artery disease
    • Congenital heart disease - see below
    • Nutritional diseases affecting the heart
    • Ischemic (or ischaemic) cardiomyopathy
    • Hypertensive cardiomyopathy
    • Valvular cardiomyopathy - see also Valvular heart disease below
    • Inflammatory cardiomyopathy - see also Inflammatory heart disease below
    • Cardiomyopathy secondary to a systemic metabolic disease
  • Intrinsic cardiomyopathies - weakness in the muscle of the heart that is not due to an identifiable external cause.
    • Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) - most common form, and one of the leading indications for heart transplantation. In DCM the heart (especially the left ventricle) is enlarged and the pumping function is diminished.
    • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM or HOCM) - genetic disorder caused by various mutations in genes encoding sarcomeric proteins. In HCM the heart muscle is thickened, which can obstruct blood flow and prevent the heart from functioning properly.
    • Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC) - arises from an electrical disturbance of the heart in which heart muscle is replaced by fibrous scar tissue. The right ventricle is generally most affected.
    • Restrictive cardiomyopathy (RCM) - least common cardiomyopathy. The walls of the ventricles are stiff, but may not be thickened, and resist the normal filling of the heart with blood. ** Noncompaction Cardiomyopathy - the left ventricle wall has failed to properly grow from birth and such has a spongy appearance when viewed during an echocardiogram.

Cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular disease is any of a number of specific diseases that affect the heart itself and/or the blood vessel system, especially the veins and arteries leading to and from the heart. Research on disease dimorphism suggests that women who suffer with cardiovascular disease usually suffer from forms that affect the blood vessels while men usually suffer from forms that affect the heart muscle itself. Known or associated causes of cardiovascular disease include diabetes mellitus, hypertension, hyperhomocysteinemia and hypercholesterolemia. Research has shown that a low fat,vegetarian diet can reduce the chance of cardiovascular disease and may also reverse conditions such as restriction of the blood vessels or "clogging."

Types of cardiovascular disease include:

  • Atherosclerosis

Congenital heart disease

Congenital heart disease, existing primarily at birth, refers to any of a number of heart diseases caused by unavoidable genetic factors.

  • Aortic valve stenosis

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