Heart Disease

Heart disease is a general term that is used to describe a wide range of diseases that affect the heart, and it is the leading cause of death in the United States.

Diagram of the human heart cropped

Types of Heart Disease

Coronary heart disease is the most common form of heart disease characterized by the narrowing and hardening of the blood vessels (arteries) that supply blood to the heart.  This occurs when plaque builds up in the arteries that supply blood to the heart.  Plaque is made up of cholesterol deposits, which can accumulate in the arteries.  Thus, causing the arteries to narrow over time. 

Arrhythmias occur when the electrical impulses that tell your heart when to beat do not work properly causing your heart to beat too fast, too slow or irregular.  Some arrhythmias can be harmless but some do affect how your body pumps blood to the other vital organs such as the lungs and the brain.

Cardiomyopathy is the hardening or stiffening of the heart wall muscles.  Over time cadiomyopathy causes the heart muscle to weaken making it more difficult for the heart to pump blood to the rest of the body and possibly lead to heart failure.

Heart infections, such as pericarditis, endocarditis and myocarditis are caused when a bacteria, virus or chemical reach the heart muscle.

Congenital Heart Disease is a heart defect that occurs when the blood vessels near the heart or the heart does not develop normally before birth.

-Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

Risk Factors of Heart Disease

There are many risk factors that can increase a man's likelihood of getting heart disease including: high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol levels, diabetes, obesity, smoking, lack of exercise and excessive alcohol use.  Men also over 45 years of age and with a family history of heart disease are at an increased risk of getting heart disease.  However, many of the different types of heart disease can be prevented and treated with healthy lifestyle change such as a healthy diet and exercise.

Symptoms of heart disease include; chest pain, shortness of breath, fainting, nausea, cold sweats or upper body pain or discomfort.