Heart Diseases and Problems

Though it is a small organ, your heart has an important job—to continually circulate blood throughout your body. Sometimes problems occur in the system. For example:

  • Damaged or clogged veins and arteries, otherwise known as coronary artery disease, can prevent the heart from supplying itself and the rest of the body with oxygen. This can lead to a heart attack and death.
  • Defects in the heart chambers—atrial septal defects—cause the heart to work harder than it should, which can also lead to serious problems such as congestive heart failure.
  • A damaged or clogged valve can cause blood to leak back into the chamber it just came from. This condition—aortic valve disease and mitral valve disease—puts undue strain on the heart.
  • There can also be issues with the electrical impulses that spark the muscle to “beat.”

Coronary artery disease, which is caused by atherosclerosis as well as a build-up of plaque inside the arteries, is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Though chest pain and shortness of breath are the most common symptoms of coronary artery disease, some people learn they have it only after suffering from a heart attack. High cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, smoking, lack of exercise, diabetes, and genetics can contribute to coronary artery disease.

Atrial septal defects are a group of rare disorders of the heart that are present at birth. Symptoms—which include frequent respiratory infections, tiring easily when playing, and slow growth—may appear in childhood. Symptoms in adults include difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, and rapid, pounding, or fluttering heartbeat. If untreated, this defect can lead to problems including bacterial infection of the heart and heart failure.

Heart valve disease is a general term for blockage, damage, weakening or malfunction of either the aortic or the mitral valves, which control blood flow between the heart chambers and the main artery that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body. Symptoms of both conditions include fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, cough, frequent respiratory infections, and irregular heartbeat.

In addition to lifestyle changes, medication, and monitoring, your doctor may recommend surgery to fix your heart problem. For more information, please contact us at 541-222-7218 or 888-240-6484 (toll free).