IntroductionHeart disease, also called cardiovascular disease, is a common problem in the United States. It occurs when the heart and blood vessels do not function properly. The most common cause is narrowing or blockage of the arteries that supply blood to the heart, but it is also caused by a variety of disorders that can impair heart or vascular functioning. There are numerous forms of heart disease including arteriosclerosis, angina, congestive heart failure, heart attack, and stroke. Heart disease can be life threatening. Certain risk factors for heart disease can be reversed. Heart disease is treated with lifestyle changes, medications, and surgery.
Your heart contains four chambers. The chambers are separated by the septum, a thick muscle wall. There are two chambers on each side of your heart. The top chambers are called atria, and they receive blood. The bottom chambers are called ventricles, and they send blood.
Coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG) involves taking a blood vessel from another part of the body to create a detour around the clogged artery to restore blood flow to the heart. Blood vessels are commonly taken from the leg and surgically attached to the coronary artery. It may be necessary to have bypass surgery on one or more coronary arteries.
An atherectomy is a procedure that removes plaque from an artery to improve blood flow. A carotid endarterectomy removes plaque from the carotid arteries to prevent a stroke. Heart valve replacement and implanted pumps, pacemakers, and defibrillators may be necessary to help the heart function. Select people may be candidates for a heart transplant surgery.
Am I at RiskThe risk for heart disease increases with age. Aging causes changes in the heart and blood vessels. You have an increased risk for heart disease if other members of your family have the condition. Smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, being overweight, alcohol abuse, illegal drug abuse, diabetes, and lack of exercise are factors that can increase your risk of developing heart disease.
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The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on April 13th, 2016. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit www.iHealthSpot.com.