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Diseases of the heart

MagazineJune 2007 (Vol. 18 Issue 3)Diseases of the heart

Heart disease remains the biggest killer in the West

Heart disease remains the biggest killer in the West. The immediate cause of death is a 'sudden' heart attack but this is the end-point of the slow progression of coronary heart disease (CHD) or coronary artery disease (CAD) where, over decades, the artery walls become blocked so stopping or severely restricting the flow of blood to the heart.

The most common heart diseases are:

  • coronary heart disease, where atheromatous plaques accumulate in the artery walls, and eventually block the blood supply to the myocardium, or heart muscle
  • ischaemic heart disease, where the blood supply to the heart is reduced
  • cardiovascular disease, a general term for a range of diseases that affect either the heart or the veins and arteries that lead to and from the heart
  • pulmonary heart disease, where the right-side of the heart fails
  • hereditary heart disease, where genetic factors are the principle cause of CHD
  • hypertensive heart disease, where heart disease is caused by high blood pressure
  • inflammatory heart disease, where the heart muscle or surrounding tissue are inflamed
  • valvular heart disease, where the valves of the heart are affected.

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