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Heart disease conditions


Angina is another word for chest pain. People with angina describe the pain as a squeezing, suffocating or burning feeling.

It’s almost always a sign that you have blocked arteries and heart disease. It’s a warning that without treatment, you are at risk for heart attack.

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There are many types of arrhythmia. But they all stem from a heart that beats too quickly or too slowly.

A normal heart beats 60-80 times per minute.

If your heart beats too slowly (less than 60 beats per minute), it’s called bradycardia.

If it beats too quickly (more than 100 beats per minute), it’s called tachycardia.

A rapid, irregular heartbeat is called fibrillation.

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Your blood flows through your arteries like water through a hose. As it travels through your body, it delivers oxygen and nutrients.

Atherosclerosis occurs when plaque builds up on the inside wall of an artery, making them thick and hard. This restricts the flow of blood and can lead to a blockage. The first symptom of coronary artery disease is often chest pain (angina).   

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Atrial fibrillation (Afib or AF)

Atrial fibrillation is when your heart beats fast or irregularly. This type of arrhythmia affects some 350,000 Canadians.

If you have atrial fibrillation, your risk of stroke is 3 to 5 times higher than if you don’t.

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Cardiac arrest

Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating.

Cardiac arrest is a medical emergency. Death will occur within minutes after the heart stops.

Performing CPR right away and using an AED (automated external defibrillator) can keep a person alive until emergency help arrives.

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Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle that reduces its ability to pump blood.

There are many types of cardiomyopathy but they share some common symptoms. These include:
Heart palpitations
Breathlessness upon exertion

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Congenital heart disease

Congenital heart disease is a heart condition you’re born with. The word congenital means “present at birth.”

There are many types of congenital heart conditions and defects.

Good quality care for children, and adults, is the key to living life to the fullest.

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Coronary artery disease

Coronary artery disease is the most common form of heart disease. It happens when arteries in the heart are blocked.

It can lead to:

Angina (chest pain) if the heart doesn’t have enough oxygen.
Heart attack if the heart doesn’t get any oxygen.

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Enlarged heart

An enlarged heart, also known as cardiomegaly, is an increase in the size of the heart. This is usually caused by another medical condition. It can make it more difficult for the heart to pump blood.

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Heart attack

A heart attack happens when the blood supply to the heart slows or stops because of a blockage.

How badly the heart is damaged after a heart attack depends on how long its blood supply was cut off.

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Heart block

Heart block is a type of arrhythmia (called bradycardia). It happens when the heart’s electrical signals are too slow or interrupted.

Heart block can be a complication of other heart diseases. Or, it can be a side effect from medication, heart attack, surgery, or infection. 

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Heart failure

Heart failure is when your heart isn’t strong enough to pump your blood effectively. This can cause fluid to pool in your lungs or your ankles and legs.

Too much fluid in your lungs could cause a life-threatening condition called acute pulmonary edema.

Heart failure can develop after the heart becomes damaged or weakened.

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Infective (bacterial) endocarditis

Infective endocarditis is an infection of the heart’s valves or lining of the heart.

It happens when bacteria (or other germs) get into your bloodstream and attach to damaged areas in your heart. People with underlying heart conditions such as a heart valve replacement or repair or rheumatic heart disease are at risk of infective endocarditis.

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Inherited rhythm disorders (IRDs)

People with inherited rhythm  disorders (IRDs) experience irregular heartbeats, also known as arrhythmias.

IRDs can cause fainting and seizures. They can also lead to Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndrome (SADS), in seemingly healthy people of all ages, including children.

Once diagnosed, IRDs can be managed through treatment and medication.

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Kawasaki disease

Kawasaki disease strikes children (most often, kids under age 5).

In most cases, symptoms disappear in five or six weeks causing no lasting damage. In some cases however, it can cause permanent damage to  coronary arteries.

Some of the symptoms are fever, rash, swollen hands and feet and irritation and redness in the whites of the eyes.

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Long Q-T syndrome

Long Q-T syndrome is a disorder of the heart’s electrical system.

LQTS is often inherited and present from birth (congenital). It can also be caused by certain medications.

Some people with LQTS often have no symptoms. If there are symptoms, they may include unexplained fainting, unexplained seizures, and abnormal rate and rhythm of the heartbeat (arrhythmia). If not detected and treated, LQTS can lead to sudden death in a small proportion of patients.

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Marfan syndrome

Marfan syndrome is an inherited disorder that affects your connective tissue. This tissue is like the glue that holds your cells (and your body) together. Because your connective tissue isn't normal , many of your body's structures aren't as firm as they should be – including structures in your heart. This can lead to severe consequences. 

Symptoms of heart valve disorders, which are common with Marfan syndrome, include fatigue, dizzy spells, shortness of breath, faintness or an irregular pulse.

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The pericardium is the thin membrane that surrounds the heart. Pericarditis is an infection of that membrane.

It can be serious, coming on suddenly (acute pericarditis), or it can develop over a long period of time (chronic pericarditis).

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Peripartum Cardiomyopathy (PPCM)

Peripartum cardiomyopathy is a rare form of  cardiomyopathy that occurs in pregnant women and recent mothers.

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Rheumatic heart disease

When the heart is damaged as a result of rheumatic fever, it’s called rheumatic heart disease. The damage can be short-term or long term. And it can affect every part of the heart, but particularly its valves.

Rheumatic fever is most common in children aged 5-15. Note that the symptoms of rheumatic heart disease may not appear until several years later.

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Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD)

Spontaneous coronary artery dissection is a tear in an artery wall in your heart that allows blood to build up in the space between the layers of your artery wall.

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Valve disorders

Valve disorders include several conditions that range from mild to severe.

Untreated, they can cause dizziness, shortness of breath, swelling, chest pain, or more serious complications.

Fortunately, many valve disorders are treatable with medication, surgery or other medical techniques.

Read more on valve disorders