picture of heart disease

The heart is a powerful organ that does a lot of work to keep us going, such as pumping blood continuously to our lungs and other major parts of our body. The heart beats about 100,000 times daily and about 35 million times in a year. It goes without saying that you need to provide proper care and attention to this hardworking organ to keep your body in good shape.

Defining Cardiovascular or Heart Disease

Heart or cardiovascular disease (CVD) pertains to any medical condition that involves the heart, including the blood vessels and the entire circulatory system.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for about one in every four deaths. The American Heart Association estimates that more than 640,000 Americans die of heart disease each year.

There is a wide range of cardiovascular issues, conditions that fall under this category. Below are several types of heart disease:

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  • Coronary artery disease (CAD)– This is caused by a buildup of plaque in the arteries of the heart.
  • Congenital heart defects– Congenital heart defects refer to heart irregularities that are present at birth.
  • Cardiac arrhythmia – A cardiac arrhythmia refers to a heartbeat rhythm abnormality.
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy– This affects one or more of the heart chambers, causing the heart to pump blood at a lower rate.
  • Heart failure– Heart failure is when the heart remains functional but at a reduced level.

The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies heart disease as one among the many non-communicable diseases (NCDs) that is collectively responsible for roughly 70% of deaths around the world.

Main Causes of Heart Disease

There are many reasons why an individual may develop cardiovascular disease, some of which cannot be controlled (i.e., having a family history of heart disease).

Although heart disease mostly affects older adults, it can strike people of any age. The good news is that many heart problems can be prevented through lifestyle changes and early detection.

Below is the list of the most common causes of heart disease.

High blood pressure

High blood pressure is also named “the silent killer” since it does not have symptoms most of the time until it has brought serious damage to the heart and arteries. Most people with high blood pressure don’t have any symptoms, making this health condition one of the sneakiest that can cause serious risk to the heart, kidneys, blood vessels, and brain.


High blood sugar levels can impair the blood vessels and the nerves that control the heart, causing the blood vessels to narrow. Not only are people with diabetes at increased risk of heart disease, but they’re also at higher risk for heart failure. Heart conditions and diabetes share several risk factors, including obesity and high blood pressure.

High levels of cholesterol

High cholesterol levels and low levels of “good” cholesterol can cause a buildup of plaque in the blood vessels. When this happens, it may become difficult for the blood to course through the body. This condition can increase the risk of developing a blood clot. If the blood flow to the heart stops, it can cause a heart attack.

Illustrated Guide to Heart Disease: Types, Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

If you want to know more about heart disease and to help you better understand it, take a look at this visual guide from For Your Sweet Heart that breaks down its different types, causes, symptoms, and treatment options.

Visual Guide to Heart Disease: Types, Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment (Infographic) 1
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