Cardiology is a branch of medicine that deals with the disorders of the heart as well as some parts of the circulatory system. The field includes medical diagnosis and treatment of congenital heart defects, coronary artery disease, heart failure, valvular heart disease and electrophysiology.
Cardiovascular disease generally refers to conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack, chest pain (angina) or stroke. Other heart conditions, such as those that affect your heart’s muscle, valves or rhythm, also are considered forms of heart disease.
Heart disease is a term covering any disorder of the heart. Unlike cardiovascular disease, which describes problems with the blood vessels and circulatory system as well as the heart, heart disease refers to issues and deformities in the heart itself.
Heart disease describes a range of conditions that affect your heart. Diseases under the heart disease umbrella include blood vessel diseases, such as coronary artery disease; heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias); and heart defects you’re born with (congenital heart defects), among others.
The term “heart disease” is often used interchangeably with the term “cardiovascular disease.” Cardiovascular disease generally refers to conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack, chest pain (angina) or stroke. Other heart conditions, such as those that affect your heart’s muscle, valves or rhythm, also are considered forms of heart disease.
Many forms of heart disease can be prevented or treated with healthy lifestyle choices.
Heart disease symptoms depend on what type of heart disease you have.
Cardiovascular disease symptoms may be different for men and women. For instance, men are more likely to have chest pain; women are more likely to have other symptoms along with chest discomfort, such as shortness of breath, nausea and extreme fatigue.
A heart arrhythmia is an abnormal heartbeat. Your heart may beat too quickly, too slowly or irregularly. Heart arrhythmia symptoms can include:
Serious congenital heart defects — defects you’re born with — usually become evident soon after birth. Heart defect symptoms in children could include:
Less serious congenital heart defects are often not diagnosed until later in childhood or during adulthood. Signs and symptoms of congenital heart defects that usually aren’t immediately life-threatening include:
In early stages of cardiomyopathy, you may have no symptoms. As the condition worsens, symptoms may include:
Endocarditis is an infection that affects the inner membrane that separates the chambers and valves of the heart (endocardium). Heart infection symptoms can include:
The heart has four valves – the aortic, mitral, pulmonary and tricuspid valves – that open and close to direct blood flow through your heart. Valves may be damaged by a variety of conditions leading to narrowing (stenosis), leaking (regurgitation or insufficiency) or improper closing (prolapse).
Depending on which valve isn’t working properly, valvular heart disease symptoms generally include: