The heart is like any other muscle in the body. It needs an adequate blood supply to provide oxygen so that the muscle can contract and pump blood to the rest of the body. Not only does the heart pump blood to the rest of the body, it also pumps blood to itself via the coronary arteries. If the heart is unable to carry out these functions, it can lead to permanent disability or death.
Heart diseases can be categorized into 5 classes:
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Ischemic heart diseases
- Hypertensive heart diseases
- Rheumatic heart diseases
- Inflammatory heart diseases 1.Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are diseases that affect the heart and blood vessels. Atherosclerosis (narrowing or hardening of blood vessels) by plaque (cholesterol deposit) in the arteries which leads to obstruction of blood flow. Examples of these cardiovascular diseases are:
- Heart attack: This occurs when a part of the heart is blocked by a blood clot. This can lead to death of the affected heart muscle if blood flow is not promptly restored. Most people survive their first heart attack if promptly managed and return to their normal lives to enjoy many more years of productive activity. Medications and lifestyle changes are made depending on the extent of the damage.
- Heart failure otherwise known as congestive heart failure occurs when the heart is unable to sufficiently pump blood to meet the demands of the body.
- Cardiac Arrhythmia: This is an abnormal rhythm of the heart. The heart can beat too slowly, too fast or irregularly. Bradycardia is when the heart rate is less than 60 beats per minute. Tachycardia is when the heart rate is more than 100 beats per minute. An arrhythmia can affect how well the heart works.
- Heart valve problems: These valves serve as sphincters that control the flow of blood of blood in and out of the chambers. When the heart valves don’t open enough to allow the blood to flow through as it should, it’s called stenosis. If it doesn’t close properly and allows blood to leak through, it’s called regurgitation. A case of prolapse is seen when the valve leaflets bulge or prolapse back into the upper chamber.
- Ischaemic heart disease: This occurs when there is an insufficient supply of blood carrying oxygen to the heart. it is accompanied with recurring chest pain and discomfort which occurs during exertion when a greater demand for oxygen is needed.
- Angina pectoris: This the paroxysmal pain felt on the anterior chest wall as result of insufficient blood flow to the heart over an extended period.
- Coronary artery disease: This occurs due to blockage in the coronary artery or narrowing of arteries that supply blood directly to the heart. This prevents the heart from pumping blood adequately to meet various oxygen demands by the body.
- Heart attack: Insufficient supply of blood to the heart as a result of a blockage in an artery by a blood clot.
- Hypertensive artery diseases: Are diseases caused by excessive pressure of blood flow through the blood vessels. They include:
- Aneurysm: This occurs as a result of a weakness or bulge in the blood vessel. It can enlarge and become life-threatening if it bursts. It can be found in arteries in any location of the body.
- Peripheral artery disease: It is caused by atherosclerosis which is the narrowing or blockage of blood vessels in the legs.
- Rheumatic heart diseases: Are diseases that affect the valves of the heart and are caused by rheumatic fever (disease that can result from inadequately treated strep throat or scarlet fever).
- Inflammatory heart disease: These are diseases of the heart caused by infectious agents like bacteria, viruses and parasites and toxic materials from the environment, air, water and toxic agents. They include:
- Pericarditis: this is an inflammation of the outer membrane of the heart.
- Endocarditis; Is the inflammation of the inner lining of the heart.
- Myocarditis: Is the inflammation of the heart muscles.
Another heart condition is:
Congenital heart disease: This is a broad term for abnormal malfunctions of the heart structures like abnormal chambers and valves. It usually occurs at birth. It is a condition which can be caused by genetic traits inherited from parents (downs’ syndrome, turners syndrome) or adverse exposure to certain chemicals or drugs (such as diazepam,ibuprofen) and excessive alcohol use.