Heart Disease Common

Heart disease is considered the number one cause of death worldwide (World Health Organization, 2008). But common heart diseases occur in many forms, and some forms are more prevalent, more preventable or more dangerous than others. Heart disease causes and symptoms vary, and so do the lifestyle and genetic risk factors associated with each form.

Generally, heart disease risk increases with age and can be elevated by parallel conditions like diabetes. But some risk factors can affect everyone, regardless of age, gender or ethnicity. Heart disease in women is just as common as it is in men, and women die of coronary heart disease as often as men do (CDC, 2010). This fact has gone unrecognized for years by some patients and health care providers, and as a result, heart disease in women has often been misdiagnosed or left untreated. Awareness campaigns are underway to increase public understanding of heart disease in women and help women reduce their risk.

Common Heart Conditions

Some heart disease causes may overlap, with multiple conditions arising from the same basic disorder and vice versa. For example, congestive heart failure, while often considered a disease, is also a condition arising from coronary heart disease or blockage of the coronary arteries.

Explore this section to learn more about the following common heart diseases, common cardiovascular diseases and heart disease causes and symptoms:

  • Cardiomyopathy: This is a form of heart disease that often afflicts younger people. It includes a group of disorders with a variety of causes, all of which lead to the impaired pumping ability of the heart muscle.
  • Cardiovascular heart disease: Not all common cardiovascular diseases are directly related to heart function. Some are caused by disorders of the larger cardiovascular system including the veins and arteries that deliver blood to other organs or the peripheral vessels that carry blood to the arms and legs.
  • Congenital heart disease: Some forms of heart disease are caused by genetic problems with heart function or heart disorders that are present at birth. Sometimes these disorders go unnoticed until symptoms appear later in life.
  • Congestive heart failure: This common condition is closely related to coronary artery disease.
  • Coronary heart disease: Also called coronary artery disease, this condition occurs when the arteries delivering oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle become blocked by residue. When the heart muscle is starved of blood flow, its tissues become compromised and the heart can experience sharp pain (angina) or stop altogether in a heart attack.
  • Pulmonary heart disease: This term describes a category of heart disorders caused by related disorders of the lungs. Pulmonary heart disease often occurs when the heart cannot receive adequately oxygenated blood from the lungs due to a pulmonary blockage.
  • Rheumatic heart disease: Rheumatic heart disease often begins with a strep throat infection that leads to rheumatic fever. This disease is becoming less common in the U.S., but is still a major worldwide killer of children under the age of five.
  • Valvular disease: When heart valves do not close properly, the blood may experience backflow, a condition called “prolapse.” When a valve doesn’t open properly–a condition called “stenosis”–blood may be inhibited from flowing forward. Several common heart diseases are caused by malfunctions of the valves.


American Heart Association. (2010). About congenital heart defects. Retrieved October 25, 2010, from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/CongenitalHeartDefects/AboutCongenitalHeartDefects/About-Congenital-Heart-Defects_UCM_001217_Article.jsp

American Heart Association. (2010). Rheumatic heart disease/rheumatic fever. Retrieved October 25, 2010, from http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4709

Centers for Disease Control. (2010). Heart disease is the number one cause of death. Retrieved October 25, 2010, from http://www.cdc.gov/features/heartmonth/

Columbia Department of Surgery. (2010). What is cardiomyopathy? Retrieved October 25, 2010, from http://www.cumc.columbia.edu/dept/cs/pat/cardiac/cardiomyopathy.html

Columbia Department of Surgery. (2010). Valvular disease. Retrieved October 25, 2010, from http://www.cumc.columbia.edu/dept/cs/pat/cardiac/valve.html

National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. (2010). What is coronary artery disease? Retrieved October 25, 2010, from http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/Cad/CAD_WhatIs.html

World Health Organization. (2008). The top 10 causes of death. Retrieved on October 28, 2010, from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs310/en/index.html

Wrong Diagnosis. (2010). What is pulmonary heart disease? Retrieved October 25, 2010, from http://www.wrongdiagnosis.com/p/pulmonary_heart_disease/basics.htm