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Coronary Artery Disease
Your heart receives its own supply of blood and oxygen through the coronary arteries. Coronary artery disease – also called ischemic heart disease or atherosclerotic heart disease – refers to a narrowing of the coronary arteries.
The coronary arteries narrow when plaque builds up, decreasing blood flow. Insufficient blood flow to the heart may cause chest pain (called angina), shortness of breath, and other symptoms of coronary artery disease. A complete blockage of a major coronary artery can cause a heart attack, making coronary artery disease one of the leading causes of death in the United States.
Electrical signals are responsible for synchronizing your heart to contract in rhythm and pump blood. The heart may beat too fast, too slow, or the heart’s upper chambers (the atria) may beat out of sync with the lower chambers of the heart (the ventricles) when the electrical signals of the heart become disorganized.
Conditions that involve a malfunction of the heart's electrical system are called arrhythmias, and can cause heart palpitations, shortness of breath, and fatigue due to irregular heartbeats. The most common clinical arrhythmias include atrial fibrillation and supraventricular tachycardia (SVT).
Living with cardiovascular conditions such as coronary artery disease or high blood pressure can leave the heart muscle weakened and unable to pump blood as well as it should. This condition is known as heart failure, and can result when the heart has trouble filling with blood (diastolic heart failure) or when the heart has trouble pumping out blood (systolic heart failure).
Insufficient delivery of blood throughout the body can have a number of detrimental effects on your health. The most common symptoms of heart failure include swollen legs, shortness of breath, fatigue, and rapid heartbeat.
Valvular Heart Disease
Your heart has four valves. In a healthy heart, these valves open and close at precise times throughout the cardiac cycle, allowing blood to flow through the different chambers of the heart, and preventing blood from flowing backwards. Heart valve disease refers to conditions in which one or more of your heart valves does not open or close as effectively as it should.
A heart valve may become narrowed or stiffen over time (called stenosis), requiring more force to open, which then requires your heart to pump harder to compensate. On the other hand, a heart valve may not close completely, causing blood to flow backwards (called regurgitation). The most common symptoms of heart valve disease include shortness of breath, weakness or dizziness, chest discomfort, and palpitations, swollen legs or swollen abdomen, among others.
Peripheral Artery Disease
Your arteries are the vessels that carry oxygenated blood from your heart to your organs and extremities. Like your coronary arteries, your peripheral arteries narrow when plaque builds up, decreasing blood flow to the affected region in your body. This is most common in the legs, especially in individuals with a long history of smoking or uncontrolled diabetes.
In its earlier stages, peripheral artery disease can cause leg pain that only flares up after walking long distances (called claudication). And if left untreated, the disease can worsen and affected individuals may experience persistent leg pain even when sitting or lying down. In the most severe cases, peripheral artery disease can cause lower extremity wounds or gangrene – sometimes necessitating amputation.
Chronic Venous Disease
Your veins are the vessels that carry deoxygenated blood from your organs and extremities back to your heart. Chronic venous disease – also called chronic venous insufficiency – is the condition that results from long-term vein problems and are most common in the legs. Venous disease occurs when there’s an obstruction within a vein or when blood pools in a vein due to excessive pressure or vein damage.
Chronic venous disease has many stages, signs, and symptoms; but is most often recognized by spider or varicose veins on the surface of the affected leg. Individuals with venous disease often experience leg cramps, aching, itchiness, swelling, or heaviness in the affected leg. When severe, venous disease can cause venous leg ulcers.
Seeking cardiovascular care for a different reason? We routinely see patients for several other conditions as well, including:
Structural heart disease
Renal artery disease
Carotid artery disease
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