Heart Diseases and Failure

CVDs include diseases of the heart, vascular diseases of the brain and diseases of blood vessels. CVDs are responsible for over 17.3 million deaths per year and are the leading causes of death in the world .The different types of CVDs are listed below.

Atherosclerosis: Ischaemic heart disease or coronary artery disease, Cerebrovascular disease, Diseases of the aorta and arteries, including hypertension and peripheral vascular disease. Other CVDs  are Congenital heart disease, Rheumatic heart disease, Cardiomyopathies, Cardiac arrhythmias.

Coronary Heart DiseaseCoronary Heart Disease (CHD) is the most common form of heart disease. It occurs when the arteries supplying blood to the heart narrow or harden from the build-up of plaque. Plaque is made up of fat, cholesterol and other substances found in the blood. The location of the plaque determines the type of heart disease.


The disease process in the blood vessels that results in coronary heart disease (heart attack) and cerebrovascular disease (stroke) is known as atherosclerosis. It is responsible for a large proportion of CVDs.

Atherosclerosis is a multifaceted pathological process in the walls of blood vessels that develops from many years. Fatty material and cholesterol are deposited inside the lumen of blood vessels (arteries). These plaques cause the inner surface of the blood vessels to become irregular and the lumen to become narrow makes it harder for blood to flow through. Blood vessels also become less pliable. Ultimately, the plaque can rupture, triggering the formation of a blood clot. If the blood clot develops in a coronary artery, it can cause a heart attack; if it develops in the brain, it can cause a Brain stroke.

Rheumatic heart diseaseRheumatic heart disease is caused by damage to the heart muscle and heart valves from rheumatic fever, following a streptococcal pharyngitis/tonsillitis.

Rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease continue to exert a significant burden on the health of low socioeconomic people.

Congenital heart disease Malformations of heart structures present at birth are known as congenital heart defects. They may be caused by

  • A close blood relation between parents
  • Maternal infections
  • Maternal use of alcohol and drugs
  • Poor maternal nutrition
  • In some cases the cause remains unknown. Examples of congenital heart disease include holes in the septum of the heart, abnormal valves and abnormalities in heart chambers.

Chagas diseaseIt is a chronic, parasitic infection caused by the protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi. Mainly transmitted by the infected faeces of triatomine bugs.

Chagas disease has two stages: the initial acute phase of infection lasts from four to eight weeks; and the chronic phase persists for the lifespan of the host. During the chronic phase, up to 30% of patients suffer from cardiac disorders and up to 10% suffer from digestive problems and neurological involvement. Chagas disease can lead to sudden death or heart failure caused by progressive destruction of the heart muscle

  • Atherosclerosis
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Rheumatic heart disease
  • Cardiomyopathies
  • Cardiac arrhythmias
  • Chagas disease

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