Heart disease can take many forms. A person can be born with heart disease, or it can develop after birth. Heart ailments can be caused by problems with the blood vessels that feed the heart. Heart ailments can also be electrical or structural.
The most common cause of heart disease is known as hardening of the arteries. When your arteries harden, plaque, which is made up of cholesterol and calcium, builds up in the artery walls. This narrows your arteries and limits the amount of blood getting to your heart and other organs. Eventually, this results in a condition called coronary artery disease or coronary heart disease, which can lead to chest pain (called angina), heart attack, or heart failure. This artery-hardening process can happen in other areas of your body, too, such as your brain, which can lead to stroke, or your legs, which is known as peripheral artery disease, or PAD.
Electrical problems have to do with heart rhythm and are called arrhythmias. Heart rhythm problems can cause your heart to beat too quickly, too slowly, or out of irregularly. Common heart rhythm problems are atrial flutter, atrial fibrillation, and ventricular fibrillation. These heart problems are often treated by an electrophysiologist. Treatment depends on what kind of rhythm problem you have and whether it is mild or severe. Treatments include medication, pacemakers, and ICDs (implantable cardiac defibrillators).
When parts of your heart are formed incorrectly, it is called structural. Structural problems can include problems with valves, problems with the connections between blood vessels and your heart, and problems with the walls that separate your heart chambers. When valves are too narrow, it can limit the amount of blood that moves through your heart. Some valves don't close properly. This allows blood to leak back into the chamber it was just in. Examples of valve disease include mitral valve prolapse (MVP), aortic regurgitation, and mitral regurgitation. An enlarged heart (cardiomyopathy) is another example of a structural problem. Treatments for structural problems can include heart surgery or valve surgery.
Physicians are members of the medical staff at one of Baylor Scott & White Health's subsidiary, community or affiliated medical centers and are neither employees nor agents of those medical centers, Baylor Scott & White The Heart Hospital – Denton or Baylor Scott & White Health.