Heart Disease Defined
Acute Coronary Syndrome: A term used to describe conditions, ranging from unstable angina to heart attack, that suddenly reduce blood flow to the heart.
Angina: Chest pain that results when atherosclerosis narrows coronary arteries enough to limit the supply of oxygen and blood to the heart.
Arrhythmia: An irregular or abnormal heartbeat.
Atherosclerosis: The underlying cause of heart disease in most people. It occurs when fatty deposits (plaques) build up within walls of the coronary arteries. (Atherosclerosis and arteriosclerosis both refer to the same abnormality.)
Cardiac Arrest: An abrupt loss of the heart’s ability to pump blood, usually due to a heart rhythm abnormality. Cardiac arrest is not the same as a heart attack.
Cardiovascular Disease (CVD): Any disease that reduces the blood supply from the arteries to the heart and other organs. The most common examples of CVD are coronary heart disease, peripheral artery disease and cerebrovascular disease.
Congenital Heart Disease: “Congenital” means present at birth. This form of heart disease is an abnormality in the structure or function of the heart that develops before birth.
Coronary Heart Disease (CHD): Occurs when arteries that supply blood to the heart are narrowed by the buildup of plaque (atherosclerosis). CHD is also referred to as Coronary Artery Disease (CAD).
Heart Failure: Occurs when the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs.
Hypertension: Chronic hypertension, or high blood pressure, can lead to heart failure, stroke and kidney disease by increasing the demands on the heart.
Myocardial Infarction: A heart attack. This occurs when a blood clot at the site of a plaque in a coronary artery blocks blood flow to a portion of the heart and results in death of heart muscle.
Myocarditis, Endocarditis, Pericarditis: Acute inflammation of the myocardium (heart muscle), pericardium (membrane surrounding the heart) or endocardium (inner lining of the heart).