My Account
About Us
Contact us
الواجهة العربية
Medical News Medical News
Aricles Articles
Events Events
Guidelines Guidelines
Videos Library Videos Library
Diseases Diseases
Follow us : facebook twitter Digg Linkedin Boxiz

Please select the categories you are intersted in:
News Articles Guidelines Events Videos Journals' abstracts

Latest Subscribers
Advanced Search »

Heart disease


Disease: Heart disease Heart disease
Category: Cardiovascular diseases
اضغط هنا للقراءة باللغة العربية

Disease Definition:

A range of diseases that affect the heart, and in some cases the blood vessels, is described by the broad term heart disease. Diseases of the blood vessels, such as coronary artery disease; heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias); and congenital heart defects, which are heart defects that a person is born with, are some of the various diseases that fall under the umbrella of heart disease.

"Cardiovascular disease" is a term that generally refers to conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack, angina (chest pain) or stroke. This term could sometimes be used interchangeably with "heart disease". Other conditions that are considered forms of heart disease include infections and conditions that affect the heart's muscle, valves or beating rhythm.

The number one worldwide killer of men and women is heart disease. With healthy lifestyle choices, as well as diet and exercise, many forms of heart disease could be prevented or treated.

Work Group:

Prepared by: Scientific Section

Symptoms, Causes


Depending on what type of heart disease someone has, the signs and symptoms could vary.

Signs and symptom of cardiovascular disease (heart disease in the blood vessels):
When narrowed, blocked or stiffened blood vessels make it so that someone's heart, brain or other parts of their body don't receive enough blood, cardiovascular disease occurs causing these signs and symptoms:
-    Shortness of breath
-    Angina
-    Weakness, numbness, pain or coldness in the legs or arms in case the blood vessels in those parts of the body are narrowed.

It's quite important for people to watch for cardiovascular symptoms and discuss their concerns with a doctor.Sometimes, cardiovascular disease may be found early with regular visits to the doctor. However, other times, someone may not be diagnosed with cardiovascular disease until their condition worsens to the point that they have a heart attack, angina, stroke, heart failure or sudden cardiac death.

Signs and symptoms of heart disease caused by heart infections:
Heart infections have three types:
When it affects the pericardium, which is the tissue that surrounds the heart, it is called pericarditis; when it affects the myocardium, which is the muscular middle layer of the walls of the heart, it is called myocarditis; and when it affects the endocardium, which is the inner membrane that separates the chambers and valves of the heart, it is called endocarditis. The symptoms of heart infection vary slightly with each type of infection, they may include:
-    Fatigue or weakness
-    Fever
-    Changes in the heart rhythm
-    Skin rashes or unusual spots
-    Swelling in the legs or abdomen
-    Dry or persistent cough
-    Shortness of breath

Signs and symptoms of heart disease caused by heart arrhythmias:
A heart arrhythmia is an abnormal heartbeat. When someone has an arrhythmia, their heart may beat too quickly, too slowly, or irregularly. Some of the signs and symptoms of heart arrhythmia may include:
-    Chest pain
-    A fluttering in the chest
-    Shortness of breath
-    Dizziness
-    Fainting (syncope) or near fainting
-    Tachycardia, which is a racing heartbeat
-    Bradycardia, which is a slow heartbeat
-    Lightheadedness

Signs and symptoms of heart disease that is caused by heart defects:
During the first few hours, days, weeks and months of life, serious congenital heart defects usually become evident. Some of the signs and symptoms of heart defect may include:
-    Swelling in the legs, abdomen or areas around the eyes
-    Shortness of breath during feedings, leading to poor weight gain
-    Cyanosis, which is the pale gray or blue skin color due to lack of oxygen.

Usually, the less-serious congenital heart defects are diagnosed later in childhood or adulthood. Some of the signs and symptoms of congenital heart defects that aren't immediately life-threatening may include:
-    Swelling in the hands, ankles or feet
-    Easily becoming short of breath during exercise or activity
-    Built-up fluid in the heart or lungs
-    Easily tiring during exercise or activity

Signs and symptoms of heart disease that is caused by cardiomyopathy:
The thickening and stiffening of the heart muscle is known as cardiomyopathy. A person may not experience any symptoms during the early stages of cardiomyopathy. However, as the condition worsens, some of these signs and symptoms may be experienced:
-    Fatigue
-    Swelling of the legs, ankles and feet
-    Lightheadedness, dizziness and fainting
-    Breathlessness with exertion or even when at rest
-    Irregular heartbeats that feel rapid, pounding or fluttering
-    Bloating (distention) of the abdomen with fluid

Symptoms of heart disease caused by valvular heart disease:
There are four valves in the heart, the aortic, mitral, pulmonary and tricuspid valves, which open and close to direct blood flow through the heart. A variety of conditions could damage the valves, which could cause narrowing (stenosis), leaking (regurgitation or insufficiency) or improper closing (prolapsed).
Based on which valve isn't working properly, the general signs and symptoms of valvular heart disease may include:
-    Shortness of breath
-    Chest pain
-    Fatigue
-    Syncope (fainting)
-    Irregular heartbeat or heart murmur
-    Swollen feet or ankles

Someone should seek emergency medical care in case they have these symptoms of heart disease:
-    Fainting
-    Chest pain
-    Shortness of breath

When detected early, heart disease is easier to treat, so people should talk to their doctor about any concerns they have about the health of their heart. People should also talk to their doctor about taking steps to reduce their risk of heart disease in case they don't have heart disease but are concerned about developing it. If someone has a family history of heart disease, he/she should be extra careful.

A person should make an appointment to see a doctor in case they think that they may have heart disease depending on new signs or symptoms that they've been experiencing.


Based on the type of heart disease, the causes may vary.

Many things could cause diseases of the heart valves. The four valves within the heart keep blood flowing in the right direction. Infections (infectious endocarditis), rheumatic fever, certain medications or radiation treatments for cancer and connective tissue disorders are some of the conditions that could damage the valves. A person may also be born with valvular disease.

The term cardiovascular disease usually means damage to the heart or blood vessels caused by atherosclerosis, which is the buildup of fatty plaques in the arteries. However, cardiovascular disease could also refer to many different types of heart or blood vessel problems. Atherosclerosis is a disease that affects the arteries. Oxygen and nutrients are carried from the heart to the rest of the body by arteries. When healthy, arteries are strong and flexible. However, over time, too much pressure in the arteries could make their walls thick and stiff, in some cases restricting blood flow to the organs and tissues. This process is either called hardening of the arteries, or arteriosclerosis. The most common form of this disorder is atherosclerosis, which is also the most common cause of cardiovascular disease. Atherosclerosis could be caused by lack of exercise, an unhealthy diet, smoking and being overweight. These are the major risk factors for developing atherosclerosis, and in turn, cardiovascular disease.

When an irritant, such as a bacteria, virus or chemical, reaches the heart muscle, heart infections occur, such as endocarditis, myocarditis and pericarditis. Some of the most common causes of heart infections are:

A number of bacteria that enter the bloodstream could end up causing endocarditis. The bacteria can enter someone's bloodstream through everyday activities such as eating or brushing teeth, particularly if a person has poor oral health. The tick-borne bacterium that causes Lyme disease could also cause myocarditis.

Some viruses that cause influenza (adenovirus, coxsackievirus B), gastrointestinal infections (echovirus), measles (rubella), a rash called fifth disease (human parvovirus B19) and mononucleosis (Epstein-Barr virus) could also cause heart infections. Heart infection could also be caused by viruses associated with sexually transmitted infections that travel to the heart muscle.

Toxoplasma, Trypanosoma cruzi, and parasites that are transmitted by insects and cause Chagas' disease are some of the parasites that could cause heart infections.

Other diseases:
Some of the diseases that could cause heart infections include rare inflammatory conditions such as Wegener's granulomatosis, as well as lupus, vasculitis (inflammation of blood vessels) and connective tissue disorders.

Medications that could cause an allergic or toxic reaction:
Antibiotics, such as penicillin and sulfonamide drugs, in addition to some illicit substances such as cocaine, could cause heart infections. Heart infections could also be caused by viruses or bacteria that are transmitted by the needles that are used to administer medications or illicit drugs.

These are some of the common causes of abnormal heart rhythms also called arrhythmias, or the conditions that could lead to it:
-    Diabetes
-    High blood pressure
-    Congenital heart defects
-    Smoking
-    Drug abuse
-    Coronary artery disease
-    Excessive use of caffeine or alcohol
-    Stress
-    Valvular heart disease
-    Some herbal remedies, dietary supplements and over-the-counter or prescription medications.

When a person is healthy, with a normal and healthy heart, a fatal arrhythmia is not likely to develop without some outside trigger, such as the use of illicit drugs and an electrical shock. This is because there aren't any abnormal conditions in a healthy person's heart that could cause an arrhythmia, such as an area of scarred tissue.

However, in a diseased or deformed heart, the electrical impulses may not start or travel properly through the heart, making the development of arrhythmias more likely.

In most cases, while a baby is still in the womb, heart defects develop. The heart begins developing about a month after conception, and heart defects form at this point. The exact cause of these defects is still not clear, but researchers believe that medications, medical conditions and genetics may play a role.

It is still not known what exactly causes cardiomyopathy, which is the thickening or enlarging of the heart muscle. Cardiomyopathy has three types:

Dilated cardiomyopathy:
In this disorder, which is the most common one, the heart's main pumping chamber (the left ventricle) becomes enlarged or dilated. This causes its pumping ability to become less forceful, and blood doesn't flow as easily through the heart.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy:
In this disorder, the growth or thickening of the heart muscle is abnormal, affecting the muscle of the heart's main pumping chamber. The heart tends to stiffen as the thickening occurs, and the size of the pumping chamber shrinks, interfering with the heart's ability to deliver blood to the body.

Restrictive cardiomyopathy:
In this disorder, the heart muscle becomes stiff and less elastic, which causes the heart not to expand properly and fill with blood between heartbeats. The exact cause of this type of cardiomyopathy is still not known, and it's the least common type.



Heart failure is one of the most common complications of heart disease.

Heart failure:
When the heart can't pump enough blood to meet the body's needs, heart failure occurs. Over time, the heart will no longer keep up with the normal demands placed on it. The ventricles will become stiff and won't fill properly between beats. The heart muscle could also weaken, and the ventricles stretch (dilate) to the point that the heart can't pump blood efficiently throughout the body. Cardiovascular disease, heart infections, heart defects, cardiomyopathy or valvular heart disease are some of the forms of heart disease that could end up causing heart failure.

Some of the other complications of heart disease may include:

Peripheral artery disease:
Atherosclerosis, which causes coronary artery disease, could also cause peripheral artery disease. A person's extremities, usually the legs, don't receive enough blood flow to keep up with demand in case they develop PAD (peripheral artery disease). Leg pain when walking (claudication) is the most notable symptom that PAD causes.

An ischemic stroke could be the result of cardiovascular disease. This type of stroke happens when the arteries to the brain are narrowed or blocked and too little blood reaches the brain. Brain tissue starts dying within just a few minutes of a stroke, because of this, a stroke is a medical emergency.

Heart attack:
A heart attack could be the result of coronary artery disease. When a blood clot blocks the flow of blood through a coronary artery, which is the blood vessel that feeds blood to a part of the heart muscle, a heart attack occurs. A part of the heart muscle could be damaged or destroyed due to interrupted blood flow to the heart.

An aneurysm, which is a serious complication that could occur anywhere in the body, could also be caused by cardiovascular disease. When a bulge occurs in the wall of the artery, it is called an aneurysm. Someone may face life-threatening internal bleeding if it bursts. However, a slow leak is possible despite the fact that this is usually a sudden, catastrophic event. In case a blood clot within an aneurysm dislodges, it could end up blocking an artery at another point.

Sudden cardiac arrest:
The condition in which there is sudden and unexpected loss of heart function, breathing and consciousness is called a sudden cardiac arrest. When an electrical disturbance in the heart disrupts its pumping action and causes blood to stop flowing to the rest of the body, sudden cardiac arrest occurs. In almost all of the cases, sudden cardiac arrest occurs in the context of other underlying heart problems, especially coronary artery disease. Sudden cardiac arrest is fatal when it's not treated immediately and results in sudden cardiac death. A sudden cardiac arrest is a medical emergency.


Various treatments are available for heart disease. Treatment may include lifestyle changes, medications, surgery or other medical procedures.

A person may be recommended maneuvers or medications to correct an irregular heartbeat, depending on the seriousness of their condition. In case someone's condition is serious, they may also need a medical device or surgery.

Vagal maneuvers:
By using particular maneuvers that include holding the breath and straining, dunking the face in ice water or coughing, some arrhythmias may be stopped. To slow a fast heartbeat, someone may also be recommended some other maneuvers. These maneuvers cause the heart rate to slow by affecting the nervous system that controls their heartbeat (vagal nerves). These maneuvers shouldn't be tried without talking to a doctor first.

Anti-arrhythmic medications could be effective in people with a rapid heartbeat. These medications could reduce episodes of the heart beating rapidly or slow down the heart when an episode occurs, but they cannot cure the problem. There are some medications that slow the heart so much, making a person need a pacemaker. To avoid complications, anti-arrhythmic medications should be taken exactly as prescribed.

Medical procedures:
Cardiac ablation and cardioversion are the two common procedures that are used to treat heart arrhythmias. An electrical shock is used in cardioversion to reset the heart to its regular rhythm. This is usually done with paddles that are placed on the chest, which deliver an electrical shock in a monitored setting. There will be no pain involved, and during this procedure, the patient will be given sedatives. One or more catheters are threaded in cardiac ablation through the blood vessels to the inner heart. These catheters are positioned in areas of the heart that are identified as causing the arrhythmia. A small spot of heart tissue is destroyed by the electrodes at the catheter tips and an electrical block is created along the pathway that is causing the arrhythmia.

Pacemakers or ICDs (implantable cardioverter-defibrillators):
In certain cases, a person may be recommended having a pacemaker or ICD implanted to regulate their heartbeat. Electrical impulses are emitted by the pacemaker to quicken the heartbeat when it becomes too slow. By using a similar type of electrical impulse as is used in cardioversion, an ICD could correct a rapid or chaotic heartbeat. The surgery in which each device is implanted is relatively minor and requires only a few days of recovery.

Surgery may be an option in severe cases of heart arrhythmias or those with an underlying cause, such as a heart defect. Usually, surgery is a last-resort treatment option because it is an open-heart procedure that requires several months of recovery.

Opening the narrowed arteries that are causing symptoms is the goal of treating cardiovascular disease (disease of the arteries). Treatment may vary based on how severe the blockage in the arteries are; they may include:

Lifestyle changes:
The patient will probably be recommended lifestyle changes, whether their heart disease is mild or severe. Eating a low-fat, low-sodium diet, getting at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most days of the week, limiting how much alcohol they drink and quitting smoking are some of the lifestyle changes that he/she may have to make.

The patient may be prescribed medications to control the heart disease in case lifestyle changes alone aren't enough. Some of those medications may include blood thinning medications such as daily aspirin therapy; cholesterol-lowering medications, such as statins or fibrates; or medications to lower blood pressure, such as beta blockers, ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors or diuretics.

Medical procedures or surgery:
To clear the blockages in the heart, someone may be recommended specific procedures or surgery in case medications aren't enough. A coronary angioplasty is a common procedure which is done by placing a catheter in an artery in the arm or groin and threading a small balloon to the blocked artery and inflating it to reopen the artery. During angioplasty, usually a small metal coil called a stent is placed in the artery to help keep the artery open.

In some cases, a coronary artery bypass surgery may be necessary, which is a more invasive surgery. The blocked portion of the artery is removed in this procedure, and the diseased part of the artery is replaced by a vein from another part of the body, usually the leg.

Based on the type of cardiomyopathy and its seriousness, treatment could vary. They may include:

The patient may be prescribed antiotensin II receptor blockers, ACE inhibitors or other medications that can improve the heart's pumping ability. Beta blockers help reduce the strain on the heart by making it beat more slowly and less forcefully.

Medical devices:
In case someone has dilated cardiomyopathy, their treatment may include a special pacemaker that coordinates the contractions between the left and right ventricles of the heart and improve its pumping ability. An implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) may be an option in case someone's at risk of serious arrhythmias. These ICDs are small devices that are implanted in the chest to monitor the heart rhythm continuously, and deliver electrical shocks whenever needed to control abnormal, rapid heartbeats.

Heart transplant:
A heart transplant may be necessary in case someone has severe cardiomyopathy and medications don't control their symptoms.

Some defects may require regular checkups, medications or even surgery, while others are minor and don't require treatment. depending on the severity and the type of the heart defect, a person may require:

Medications that help the heart work more efficiently could treat some mild congenital heart defects, particularly those that are found later in childhood or adulthood.

Special procedures using catheters:
Congenital heart defects are sometimes repaired by using catheterization techniques that allow the repair to be done without surgically opening the chest and heart. In these procedures, a thin tube (catheter) will be inserted into a leg vein and guided to the heart with the help of X-ray images. To repair the defect, tiny tools are threaded through the catheter to the heart once it is positioned at the site of the defect.

Open-heart surgery:
Sometimes, to try to repair the heart defect, the doctor may perform an open-heart surgery. To correct the defect, the patient may need multiple surgeries over several years. These surgeries are major medical procedures that require a long recovery time.

Heart transplant:
A heart transplant could be an option in case a serious heart defect can't be repaired.

Treatment of valvular heart disease will depend on what valve is affected and how severe the condition is. Some of the treatment options may include:

Valvular heart disease could be managed with medications alone in case it is mild. Blood-thinning medications (anticoagulants), medications to open the blood vessels (vasodilators), medications that reduce water retention (diuretics) and medications to lower cholesterol (statins) are some of the commonly prescribed medications for valvular heart disease.

Balloon valvuloplasty:
Valve stenosis is sometimes treated with this procedure. In this procedure, a small tube is threaded through the opening of the narrowed pulmonary valve and then the balloon is inflated, opening up the narrowed pulmonary valve and increasing the area available for blood flow.

Valve repair or replacement:
A person may need surgery if their condition is severe. The doctor may be able to repair the valve. However, the valve could also be replaced with a replacement valve made of synthetic materials in case it can't be repaired.

Medications are the first treatment for heart infections such as endocarditis, myocarditis or pericarditis. They may include:

The patient will be prescribed antibiotics in case his/her condition is caused by a bacterium. Depending on how severe the condition is, antibiotics will be given by an intravenous line for two to six weeks.

Medications to regulate the heartbeat:
Someone may be prescribed medications such as angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors or beta blockers to help normalize their heartbeat in case the infection has affected the heartbeat.
However, a person may need surgery to repair the damaged portion of their heart in case the infection is severe and has damaged the heart.


Not available

Expert's opinion

Expert's Name:
Specialty: -

Expert's opinion:

For Specialists

Clinical Trials:

Not available


Latest Drugs:




Forgot your password

sign up

Consultants Corner

Dr. Tahsin Martini

Dr. Tahsin Martini Degree status: M.D. in Ophthalmology

Dr . Dirar Abboud

Dr . Dirar Abboud Hepatologist – Gastroenterologist

Yaser Habrawi , F.R.C.S.Ed

Yaser Habrawi , F.R.C.S.Ed Consultant Ophthalmologist

Dr. Samer Al-Jneidy

Dr. Samer Al-Jneidy Pediatrician

Samir Moussa M.D.

Samir Moussa M.D. ENT Specialist

Dr. Faisal Dibsi

Dr. Faisal Dibsi Specialist of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery

Dr. Talal Sabouni


Dr. Hani Najjar

Dr. Hani Najjar Pediatrics, Neurology

Which of the following you are mostly interested in?

Cancer Research
Mental Health
Heart Disease & Diabetes
Sexual Health
Obesity and Healthy Diets
Mother & Child Health

Disclaimer : This site does not endorse or recommend any medical treatment, pharmaceuticals or brand names. More Details