West Valley Medical Center - September 17, 2015

When you hear the term heart disease, you might think of heart attack or strokes. But heart disease is actually an umbrella term that describes a number of distinct heart conditions, similar to how cancer is a term used to describe many different cancers.

Heart disease can be any issue that keeps the heart from doing it's main job pumping blood throughout the body. This includes birth defects and preventable conditions related to the heart's muscle, vessels, valves, and rhythm.

Because of the wide range of diseases covered under the heart disease umbrella, and because heart disease can cause other heart complications, it can be a confusing topic.

Here's a look at some common preventable heart diseases and the complicated web they weave:


1. Condition: Ischemic Heart Disease

2. Main Issue: Blood flow to the heart is restricted

3. Examples:

a. Coronary heart disease (CHD) - also known as

b. Coronary artery disease (CAD) - plaque buildup in large arteries causes blockages

c. Coronary microvascular disease (MVD) - damage to walls of tiny arteries cause reduced blood flow

4. Impact: 15.5 million Americans have CHD, the most common cause of death for Americans

5. Can Lead To: Blood clots, heart attack, stroke, cardiac arrest, hypertension, heart failure, death

Source: American Heart Association, 1, 2, 3; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


1. Condition: Arrhythmias

2: Main Issue: The heartbeat is irregular; sometimes no treatment is needed

3: Examples:

a. Atrial fibrillation (aFib or AF) - quivering heartbeat

b. Tachycardia - heartbeat is too fast

c. Bradycardia - heartbeat is too slow

d. Ventricular firbillation (v-fib)

4: Impact: 2.66 million Americans have aFib

5. Can Lead To: Blood clots, stroke, heart failure, damage to organs not getting enough oxygen, death

Source: American Heart Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

What increases your risk of heart disease? Hypertension, heart failure, sudden cardiac arrest, stroke, ischemic heart disease, cardiomyopathy, arrhythmias, heart attack, smoking, diabetes, excessive alcohol, stress, poor diet, being overweight or obese, physical inactivity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, genetics. Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

1. Condition: Heart Failure

2: Main Issue: The heart is not pumping enough blood to meet the body's needs

3. Examples:

a. congestive heart failure - blood returning to the heart through the veins backs up because blood flow out of the heart slows, causing fluid to build up in the body's tissues

b. right ventricular heart failure - left ventricle fails, increased fluid pressure is moved back through lungs, damaging the heart's right side

c. left ventricular heart failure - left side of heart works harder to pump blood through the body

4. Impact: 5.7 million Americans with heart failure

5. Can Lead To: death

Source: American Heart Association 1, 2


1. Condition: Stroke

2. Main Issue: Oxygen-rich blood is not flowing properly to the brain

3. Examples:

a. ischemic stroke - blockage in a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain

b. hemorrhagic stroke - weakened blood vessel ruptures

c. transient ischemic attack (TIA) or mini-stroke - blockage caused by a temporary clot

4. Impact: More than 795,000 Americans have a stroke each year. Nearly 130,000 Americans die of a stroke each year.

5. Can Lead To: Brain damage, long-term disability, death

Source: American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 1, 2


1. Condition: Sudden cardiac arrest

2. Main Issue: The heart suddenly stops beating

3. Examples: N/A

4. Impact: 570,000 Americans have cardiac arrest annually

5. Can Lead To: Death

Source: National Institutes of Health, American Heart Association


1. Condition: Heart Attack

2. Main Issue: oxygen is severely restricted or completely cut off from a part of the heart, but the heart keeps beating

3. Examples:

a. Blood clot or other blockage in blood flow through an artery in the heart

b. Heart is not getting enough oxygen

4. Impact: 720,000 incidents per year

5. Can Lead To: Death, heart failure

Source: Harvard Medical School, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


1. Condition: Hypertension

2. Main Issue: As heart pumps blood through body, the force against the artery walls is higher than normal

4. Impact: 80 million American adults have hypertension

5. Can Lead To: Stroke, heart attack, heart failure, kidney disease, death

Source: National Institutes of Health, American Heart Association


1. Condition: Cardiomyopathy

2. Main Issue: Heart muscle becomes enlarged, rigid, or thick and cannot pump blood properly

3. Examples:

a. Dialated cardiomyopathy - one of the heart's chambers is enlarged

b. Hypertrophic myopathy - heart muscle is thickened

c. Restrictive cardiomyopathy - heart muscle is stiff or scarred

d. Arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia - wall of heart muscle breaks down and causes arrhythmia

4. Impact: Cardiomyopathy often goes undiagnosed, but 1 in 500 adults may have this condition

5. Can Lead To: Heart failure, arrhythmias, death

Source: National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


A West Valley Medical Center provider can help you determine your risk for cardiovascular disease and work with you to determine an action plan. Call (208) 455-3981 or visit westvalleyisbetter.com to make an appointment today!