Who gets heart disease? Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source. In the United States, 1 in every 4 deaths in is the result of a heart disease. That’s about 610,000 people who die from the condition each year.
Heart disease doesn’t discriminate. It’s the leading cause of death for several populations, including white people, Hispanics, and Black people. Almost half of Americans are at risk for heart disease, and the numbers are rising. Learn more about the increase in heart disease rates.
While heart disease can be deadly, it’s also preventable in most people. By adopting healthy lifestyle habits early, you can potentially live longer with a healthier heart.
What are the different types of heart disease?
Heart disease encompasses a wide range of cardiovascular problems. Several diseases and conditions fall under the umbrella of heart disease. Types of heart disease include:
- Arrhythmia. An arrhythmia is a heart rhythm abnormality.
- Atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a hardening of the arteries.
- Cardiomyopathy. This condition causes the heart’s muscles to harden or grow weak.
- Congenital heart defects. Congenital heart defects are heart irregularities that are present at birth.
- Coronary artery disease (CAD). CAD is caused by the buildup of plaque in the heart’s arteries. It’s sometimes called ischemic heart disease.
- Heart infections. Heart infections may be caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites.
The term cardiovascular disease may be used to refer to heart conditions that specifically affect the blood vessels.
What are the symptoms of heart disease?
Different types of heart disease may result in a variety of different symptoms.
Arrhythmias are abnormal heart rhythms. The symptoms you experience may depend on the type of arrhythmia you have — heartbeats that are too fast or too slow. Symptoms of an arrhythmia include:
- fluttering heart or racing heartbeat
- slow pulse
- fainting spells
- chest pain
Atherosclerosis reduces blood supply to your extremities. In addition to chest pain and shortness of breath, symptoms of atherosclerosis include:
- coldness, especially in the limbs
- numbness, especially in the limbs
- unusual or unexplained pain
- weakness in your legs and arms
Congenital heart defects
Congenital heart defects are heart problems that develop when a fetus is growing. Some heart defects are never diagnosed. Others may be found when they cause symptoms, such as:
- blue-tinged skin
- swelling of the extremities
- shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- fatigue and low energy
- irregular heart rhythm
Coronary artery disease (CAD)
CAD is plaque buildup in the arteries that move oxygen-rich blood through the heart and lungs. Symptoms of CAD include:
- chest pain or discomfort
- a feeling of pressure or squeezing in the chest
- shortness of breath
- feelings of indigestion or gas
Cardiomyopathy is a disease that causes the muscles of the heart to grow larger and turn rigid, thick, or weak. Symptoms of this condition include:
- swollen legs, especially ankles and feet
- shortness of breath
- pounding or rapid pulse
The term heart infection may be used to describe conditions such as endocarditis or myocarditis. Symptoms of a heart infection include:
- chest pain
- chest congestion or coughing
- skin rash
What causes heart disease?
Heart disease is a collection of diseases and conditions that cause cardiovascular problems. Each type of heart disease is caused by something entirely unique to that condition. Atherosclerosis and CAD result from plaque buildup in the arteries. Other causes of heart disease are described below.
Causes of an abnormal heart rhythm include:
- heart defects, including congenital heart defects
- medications, supplements, and herbal remedies
- high blood pressure (hypertension)
- excessive alcohol or caffeine use
- substance use disorders
- stress and anxiety
- existing heart damage or disease
Congenital heart defect causes
This heart disease occurs while a baby is still developing in the womb. Some heart defects may be serious and diagnosed and treated early. Some may also go undiagnosed for many years.
Your heart’s structure can also change as you age. This can create a heart defect that may lead to complications and problems.
Several types of cardiomyopathy exist. Each type is the result of a separate condition.
- Dilated cardiomyopathy. It’s unclear what causes this most common type of cardiomyopathy, which leads to a weakened heart. It may be the result of previous damage to the heart, such as the kind caused by drugs, infections, and heart attack. It may also be an inherited condition or the result of uncontrolled blood pressure.
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. This type of heart disease leads to a thicker heart muscle. It’s usually inherited.
- Restrictive cardiomyopathy. It’s often unclear what leads to this type of cardiomyopathy, which results in rigid heart walls. Possible causes may include scar tissue buildup and a type of abnormal protein buildup known as amyloidosis.