Health and Wellness

Heart Diseases: Symptoms, Reasons, and Prevention

Heart Diseases: An Introduction Studies published by THE LANCET Regional Health Southeast Asia have shown that heart (cardiovascular) diseases (CVD) are one of the leading causes of death and…

Heart Diseases: An Introduction

Studies published by THE LANCET Regional Health Southeast Asia have shown that heart (cardiovascular) diseases (CVD) are one of the leading causes of death and disability worldwide and in India (Source). 

The heart continuously pumps blood enriched with oxygen, carbon dioxide, and nutrients throughout the human body, which fuels it. Any problem delivering the fuel affects the whole system and its functioning. Heart diseases, including narrow or blocked blood vessels, can lead to attacks, strokes, and other medical conditions. Diagnosis and prevention measures taken at the right time may reduce the significant risks caused by heart diseases.  

In this article, you will learn more about heart disease types, causes, symptoms, and prevention.  

What are Heart Diseases?

Heart disease is any condition affecting the regular structure and functioning of the heart and blood vessels. These may affect the heart and/ or the blood vessels partially or majorly. A person suffering from heart disease can be both symptomatic and asymptomatic. 

Heart diseases may affect people of all ages, sexes, and socioeconomic levels. The following issues with heart or blood vessels may lead to heart (cardiovascular) diseases: 

  • Blood vessel narrowing 
  • Heart or blood vessel problems present from birth
  • Misfunctioning of heart valves
  • Heart muscle disease
  • Irregularity of heartbeats (arrhythmias)

Key Points: 

  • Cardiovascular or heart disease is the leading cause of death globally. 
  • Heart diseases are a group of heart conditions that include malfunctioning of the heart, blood vessels, heart failure, and valve disease. 
  • Heart diseases cannot be cured completely but prevented or treated by adopting healthy lifestyle choices, medication, and/ or surgery.

What are the Types of Heart Diseases?

Different cardiovascular problems fall under the umbrella of heart disease. Some of them you may be born with, or some you may develop during your lifetime. Look at the different types of heart diseases in detail below: 

  • Heart Rhythm Disorder (Arrhythmia): This is when the heart beats too slowly, quickly, or irregularly compared to a normal rate. The condition leads to blood flow disruption. 
  1. Symptoms: Palpitations, dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pain.
  2. Risk Factors: Heart tissue damage, high blood pressure, congenital heart defects, stress, caffeine, and medications.
  • Heart Valve Diseases: Valvular heart disease causes damage or defects in any of the four heart valves, leading to valve stenosis (narrowing), valve regurgitation (leakage), and valve prolapse.
  1. Symptoms: Fatigue, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, swelling of feet or ankles.
  2. Risk Factors: Rheumatic fever, infections, age, congenital defects.
  • Congenital Heart Defects: When a person is born with a heart problem, including conditions such as a valve defect, a hole in the wall of the lower or upper chamber of the heart, or a missing heart valve. 
  1. Symptoms: Cyanosis (bluish skin), shortness of breath, poor infant feeding, delayed growth.
  2. Risk Factors: Genetic factors, maternal diabetes, infections during pregnancy.
  • Heart Failure: It is a serious condition when the heart becomes weak or damaged. Heart attacks and high blood pressure generally cause heart failure. 
  1. Symptoms: Shortness of breath, fatigue, swollen legs, rapid heartbeat.
  2. Risk Factors: Previous heart attack, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity.
  • Coronary Artery Disease (CAD): CAD leads to the narrowing or blocking of the heart arteries and valves (atherosclerosis) due to plaque buildup. This condition reduces blood flow and affects blood functioning.  
  1. Symptoms: Chest pain (angina), shortness of breath, heart attack.
  2. Risk Factors: High cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity.
  • Cardiomyopathy: When the heart muscle fails to pump the blood to the heart, leading to heart failure. The most common types of cardiomyopathy involve dilated, hypertrophic, restrictive, and arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia.
  1. Symptoms: Breathlessness, swelling of the legs, fatigue, irregular heartbeats.
  2. Risk Factors: Genetic factors, heart tissue damage from a previous heart attack, long-term high blood pressure, chronic rapid heart rate.
  • Myocardial Infarction (Heart Attack): When the blood flow of the heart is blocked/ disrupted due to blood clot causing damage to a part of the heart muscle.  
  1. Symptoms: Severe chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea, and sweating.
  2. Risk Factors: High blood pressure (Hypertension), high-level cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, smoking.  
  • Pericardial Disease: When infection or inflammation is developed in the pericardium (a sac that surrounds the heart). The condition may lead to diseases such as pericarditis, pericardial effusion, and constrictive pericarditis.
  1. Symptoms: Sharp chest pain, fever, weakness, difficulty breathing when lying down.
  2. Risk Factors: Infections, autoimmune diseases, after heart surgery or heart attack.
  • Aortic Disease: Misfunctioning of the main artery carrying blood from the heart to throughout the body. 
  1. Symptoms: Severe chest or back pain, shortness of breath, difficulty swallowing.
  2. Risk Factors: High blood pressure, genetic conditions like Marfan syndrome, and atherosclerosis.

How are Heart Diseases Diagnosed?

Heart disease diagnostic tests may differ depending on the signs and symptoms the person is experiencing. Heart specialists use a combination of diagnostic methods to accurately diagnose heart diseases, assess their severity, and determine the best course of treatment for patients. Some of the diagnostic tests are as follows: 

Clinical Evaluation

  • Medical history
  • Family history of heart disease
  • Assessment of symptoms 
  • Previous medical conditions 

Physical Examination

  • Listening to heart sounds
  • Checking blood pressure and pulse
  • Assessment of signs of heart failure (swelling in the legs, jugular venous distention, etc.)

Diagnostic Tests

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) to measure electrical activity
  • Echocardiogram uses ultrasound waves to create images of the heart
  • Stress tests
  • Blood tests using Troponin, BNP or NT-proBNP,  Cholesterol and lipid profile

Imaging Studies

  • Chest X-ray
  • Cardiac CT scan
  • Cardiac MRI
  • Nuclear Cardiology

Invasive Procedures

  • Coronary angiography
  • Cardiac catheterization
  • Electrophysiology study (EPS)

Specialized Tests

  • Holter monitor
  • Event monitor
  • Tilt table test

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Heart Disease?  

Different symptoms may indicate heart disease in different individuals. Some of the heart conditions may cause no symptoms in persons. The common signs and symptoms of heart disease may include: 

  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Dizziness/ lightheadedness
  • Unconsciousness
  • Heaviness or discomfort in the chest
  • Neck pain
  • Heartburn or ingestion
  • Exhaustion
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Problem in working out
  • Fever
  • a choking sensation

Early Signs of Heart Disease

Early signs of heart disease are: 

  • Chest pain 
  • Swelling in legs
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness in breath
  • Fainting or dizziness

Reasons that Can Lead to Heart Diseases

In an individual, there might be different reasons leading to heart disease. Sometimes, genetic factors can also be the reason. : 

Health Conditions

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Diabetes
  • Autoimmune and inflammatory diseases
  • Chronic kidney conditions
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Obesity
  • Low supply of oxygen and nutrients to the heart
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Age factors
  • Leaky heart valves

Lifestyle Choices

  • Eating a diet high in saturated fats, salt, and carbohydrates
  • Less or no physical activity
  • Too much alcohol consumption
  • Exposure to smoke
  • Taking too much stress or anxiety level

Risk Factors You Cannot Control

Sex: For a woman, the risk of heart disease changes over time.

Age: The older you get, the higher the risk of heart disease.

Medical History: Family history affects the risk of heart disease. 

Personal Conditions: Heart disease may be caused due to poor accessibility to healthy food, safe drinking water, medical services, and social services. 

Ethnicity: Certain ethnic groups, such as African Americans, Hispanics, and South Asians, have a higher risk of heart disease and heart attacks.

Possible Heart Disease Prevention and Treatment

Heart disease treatment completely depends on the cause and type of damage to the heart and/ or the valves. However, from a medical point of view, certain medications suggested by healthcare experts and preventive measures can save you from life-threatening effects. Some of the preventive measures of heart disease are: 

Changes in Lifestyle Habits: 

  • Low-fat intake
  • Low salt diet
  • Regular exercise
  • Practice good sleep habits
  • No smoking

Surgery and Other Procedures: 

  • Coronary artery bypass surgery
  • Valve repair or replacement
  • Coronary angiography
  • Repair surgery
  • Device implantation
  • Laser treatment 
  • Maze surgery

Other Preventive Measures: 

  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Control blood pressure
  • Get a cholesterol test
  • Manage diabetes
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Practice good hygiene
  • Quit/ avoid smoking habits
  • Limiting alcohol intake
  • Exercise regularly

Individuals experiencing any of the above-mentioned heart conditions for a long time need to visit a heart specialist and get diagnostic tests and treatment. Depending on the severity of the heart disease, the specialist can suggest heart surgery, a heart-healthy diet, a heart transplant, etc.

Heart diseases may bring financial burden to your pocket. So we suggest you stay protected against comprehensive health insurance that keeps you stress-free and focused on heart disease treatment. 

Contact RenewBuy Advisor to buy a suitable health insurance policy. 

* Disclaimer: The details, facts, or figures given here are intended solely for the reader's informational purposes and should not be relied upon for personal, medical, legal, or financial decisions. Please visit the insurer's website for the latest updates. We do not endorse any particular insurance company or insurance product provided by any insurer.


What are the 4 heart problems?

  1. The 4 heart problems are: 
  • Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)
  • Heart failure
  • Abnormal heart rhythms (Arrhythmias)
  • Valvular heart disease

What are the common heart diseases?

  1. Common heart problems are: 
  • Heart failure
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Heart attack
  • Valvular disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Abnormal heart rhythms (Arrhythmias)
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Difficulty in heart squeezing and relaxation 

What are the four types of heart failure?

  1. The following are four types of heart failure: 
  • Heart failure with reduced ejection fraction: The heart's left ventricle is weakened and has difficulty pumping out enough blood to meet the body's needs.
  • Heart failure with preserved ejection fraction: During the resting phase of the cardiac cycle, the heart's left ventricle becomes stiff and has difficulty relaxing and filling with blood.
  • Heart failure with mid-range ejection fraction: This category includes heart failure patients with an ejection fraction that falls between the range of reduced and preserved ejection. 
  • Right-Sided Heart Failure: The right ventricle struggles to pump blood to the lungs for oxygenation, leading to symptoms such as swelling in the legs and abdomen, and fluid retention.

Are heart diseases curable?

  1. Heart diseases are impossible to reverse and require lifetime medication and monitoring. To relieve heart problem symptoms, you can follow certain procedures and make necessary lifestyle changes. 

Can I lower the risk of heart problems?

  1. You can lower your risk of heart disease by maintaining a healthy diet, staying physically active, managing stress, quitting smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight. Controlling conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes would also help.

What is a healthy diet for heart health?

  1. A heart-healthy diet includes plenty of fruits, whole grains, vegetables, lean proteins (fish and poultry), and healthy fats (olive oil and avocados). It also limits saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, and sodium.

What is a stroke, and how is it related to heart disease?

  1. A stroke occurs when blood flow to a part of your brain is blocked or reduced, depriving brain tissue of oxygen and nutrients. Certain types of strokes can be related to heart disease.


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