What is cardiac disease? Cardiac (or cardiovascular) disease refers to any condition affecting the ability of the heart and/or blood vessels to function properly. There are many different kinds of cardiac disease, but they all threaten the circulatory system in one way or another. This is what makes cardiac disease so deadly a disruption of the blood supply to any part of the body can lead to tissue damage or death, often within a matter of minutes. Some of the major types of cardiac disease include: * Coronary heart disease o CHD is the condition that results from the buildup of plaques within the walls of arteries that supply the heart muscle with oxygen and nutrients. CHD can lead to heart attacks, which occur when the buildup suddenly interrupts the heart's supply of blood, leading to the damage or death of heart tissue. This is the single largest cause of death in the world. * Cerebrovascular disease Cerebrovascular disease is a condition in which the arteries leading the to the brain become obstructed, which can decrease blood supply to the brain. A stroke occurs when one of these arteries becomes completely blocked, cutting off the blood supply to all or part of the brain. This can result in significant brain damage, depending on the size of the obstructed artery and the duration of the blockage. * Hypertensive heart disease o Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, can increase the risk for a number of other heart-related conditions, including heart attack, stroke, cardiac arrest, and congestive heart failure. What causes cardiac disease? Most cardiac diseases are caused by the buildup of cholesterol and other lipids in the walls of blood vessels, which can cause them to constrict or reduce their ability to expand and contract in response to changing demand for blood circulation. This buildup can even cause blockages in the arteries, blocking the blood supply to a certain part of the body. Additionally, some factors can increase blood pressure or elevate the heart rate, which can increase the risk of developing cardiac disease. The combination of the two factors, arterial buildup and high blood pressure, can greatly increase the likelihood of heart problems. Many factors can contribute to a higher risk of heart disease, including: * Tobacco smoking * High cholesterol levels * Obesity * Physical inactivity * Diets high in fat, salt, or refined carbohydrates * Elevated heart rate - can be caused by overuse of stimulants These risk factors are generally preventable, though there are some risk factors that cannot be prevented. Genetics have been linked to cardiovascular disease some people with a family history of heart problems are naturally more predisposed to develop cardiac problems themselves. In addition to the hereditary aspect, males are more likely than females to suffer from cardiac diseases. Old age is also a risk factor. The risk of heart attack, stroke, and cardiac arrest increases with age, and over half of all people over the age of 60 suffer from some form of cardiac disease. 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. Types of cardiovascular disease include: * Atherosclerosis Ischaemic heart disease * Ischaemic heart disease - another disease of the heart itself, characterized by reduced blood supply to the organs. Heart failure Main article: Heart failure Heart failure, also called congestive heart failure (or CHF), and congestive cardiac failure (CCF), is a condition that can result from any structural or functional cardiac disorder that impairs the ability of the heart to fill with or pump a sufficient amount of blood throughout the body. Therefore leading to the heart and body's failure. * Cor pulmonale, a failure of the right side of the heart. Hypertensive heart disease Hypertensive heart disease is heart disease caused by high blood pressure, especially localised high blood pressure. Conditions that can be caused by hypertensive heart disease include: * Left ventricular hypertrophy * Coronary heart disease * (Congestive) heart failure * Hypertensive cardiomyopathy * Cardiac arrhythmias
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