Heart Diseases


Heart diseases include a vast range of conditions of the heart. These various diseases can be caused due to different reasons like inability in the proper functioning, structural malformations, defects in the blood supply to the heart muscles or abnormality in the metabolism. Listed here are a few of the very common diseases affecting the heart.

There are four types of Heart muscle disease Congenital heart problems are those present at birth. They include defects in the valves and chambers and also circulatory problems. About eight out of every 1,000 infants are born with one or more cardiac or circulatory problems, and about half these cases are serious enough to require treatment.

Diagnosis of IHD The exact cause of a congenital heart defect is not known. Although genetic factors seem to play a part, families should be aware that medical researchers cannot predict most cases. Therefore, there’s no point in trying to pin down genetic “Blame” or determine which side of the family “Caused” the problem.

Restrictive Cardiomyopathy This one is very rare. It gets its name because the condition restricts the heart from stretching properly, which limits the amount of blood that can fill the heart’s chambers.

In addition to genetic factors, certain environmental and behavioral factors have been identified as interfering with the development of the fetus’s heart during the first 10 weeks of gestation. Some conditions that alert a physician to the possibility of congenital heart disease in an infant include:

  • Congenital heart disease in the mother or father.
  • Congenital heart disease in a previous child or other relative.
  • Diabetes in the mother.
  • Rubella (German measles), Toxoplasmosis (a protozoal infection transmitted via cat feces) or HIV infection in the mother.
  • The mother’s excessive use of alcohol.
  • The mother’s use of cocaine or other drugs.
  • The mother’s exposure during pregnancy to certain anticonvulsant and dermatological medications.

The Fetal Heart During development inside the uterus, the growing fetus is fully dependent on the mother’s circulatory system and the placenta for nourishment. The fetus is also dependent on the placenta as its source of oxygen and its means of removing carbon dioxide. The fetus doesn’t use its own lungs until birth, so its circulatory pathway is different from that of a newborn infant. Before birth, the heart doesn’t have to pump blood to the lungs to pick up oxygen. So, instead of having a separate left pulmonary artery and aorta, in the fetal heart, these two blood vessels are connected via a blood vessel called the Ductus Arteriosus. In addition, there is an opening between the right and left atria in the fetal heart, called the Foramen Ovale, which allows blood to circulate more directly from the right atrium to the left atrium during fetal development. The ductus arteriosus and the opening between the two atria exist as parts of the circulatory system before birth, but that system changes after birth.

These temporary routes naturally close up shortly after birth, when the baby’s lungs and cardiovascular system take over. And because the fetal heart has a circulatory system different from the one the baby uses after birth, some heart defects become apparent days or weeks after birth that weren’t spotted earlier.