Beyond Heart Attack: Other Heart Diseases You Should Know About

Unfortunately, there are so many kinds of heart diseases that they need to be listed under groups and even subgroups. But can you blame the heart? This is a machine, after all, that kicks into action three weeks after conception and is expected to keep running 24 hours, 7 days a week without stopping for about the next 100 years. It’s astonishing that more things don’t go wrong with it!

Beyond Heart Attack: Other Heart Diseases You Should Know About

But with more and more people approaching the century mark, keeping the heart healthy is now a part of senior health. As well as smoking, being overweight and having a sedentary lifestyle, aging certainly increases the risk for heart disease, though heart disease is never inevitable at any age. Here are a few of the “other” heart diseases:

Diseases of the Valves

The valves of the heart make sure that the blood travels in the right direction and does not back up or leak. However, the valves can be damaged or weakened to the point where they grow narrow or stiff and don’t open and close the way they should. Reasons for this include autoimmune disorders such as rheumatic fever, a prior heart attack, medications, problems with the connective tissue or infections. Aging can also cause the heart valves to weaken.

Symptoms of valvular disease include:

  • Mild chest pain
  • Palpitations
  • Fatigue
  • Rapid, unexplained weight gain
  • If the condition is caused by an infection, the person may also have a fever
  • Prevention of heart valve disease includes stopping smoking, cutting down on alcohol, eating a low-salt and low-fat diet and exercise. Diabetics need to keep control of their blood sugar.

    The heart is also subject to inflammation. One type is of the sac that covers the heart, or pericarditis, which can be caused by a viral infection. The symptoms are chest pain and abnormalities of the heart rhythm. Sometimes, only a doctor can discern the signs of inflammatory heart diseases. With pericarditis, for example, the doctor hears a friction rub through the stethoscope. The person’s white blood cell count may be elevated as well.

    Cardiomyopathy is also another disease of the heart. There are several types of this disease, and some of them are inherited. In cardiomyopathy:

  • The heart is larger than normal
  • There is a loss of heart muscle
  • The heart muscle is abnormally thick
  • The risks of uninherited cardiomyopathy are many, and include:

  • Smoking
  • Alcoholism
  • Obesity
  • Hypertension
  • Other diseases that attack the heart
  • Thyroid problems
  • A condition where the body stores too much iron, called hemochromatosis