heart & vascular conditions

The most common heart & vascular conditions are listed below. Click on the name to learn more about the condition. If you are looking for a specific condition and do not see it in the list below, please visit our online health library.

Aneurysm. The bulging of an artery caused by uncontrolled blood pressure, injury or weakness. As the aneurysm continues to grow, it may rupture or leak and cause massive internal bleeding.

Aortic dissection. A tear in the lining of the aorta (the largest blood vessel in the body) which can cause it to rupture, causing serious internal bleeding.

Atrial fibrillation. A disorder in which the heart beats in an irregular, chaotic rhythm.

Atrial or ventrical septal defect. When a hole in the wall that separates the right and left lungs causes excess blood flow to the lungs.

Blood clot (thrombosis). A hardened glob of blood within an artery or vein which breaks away and blocks the flow of blood to a particular area of the body.

Chest pain (angina). Pain in the chest, arms, shoulders, neck or jaw caused by narrowing of the coronary arteries, thus resulting in an insufficient supply of blood and oxygen to the heart.

Coarctation of the aorta. A constriction of the large blood vessel (aorta) as it curves down to supply the lower body, thus causing an elevation in blood pressure before the narrowed area.

Coronary artery disease. When the arteries that carry blood to the heart become blocked or narrowed by a gradual buildup of fat (cholesterol).

Diabetes. A disease in which the amount of sugar (glucose) in the blood is too high, because the pancreas either cannot produce or use insulin. When blood sugar is not turned into energy, it can accumulate in the bloodstream and damage the heart.

Heart attack (acute myocardial infarction). A complete blockage of blood flow in an artery leading to the heart.

Heart failure. When the heart loses its ability to pump enough blood, because the heart muscle has been weakened or injured by high blood pressure or a heart attack.

Heart rhythm disorder (arrhythmia). An unusual rhythm of the heartbeat, either too fast or too slow.

High blood pressure (hypertension). When the pressure of the blood is so great against the walls of the artery, it causes the heart to work harder to pump blood throughout the body.

Mitral valve prolapse. A leak in the mitral valve, which controls blood flow through the left side of the heart.

Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA). When the PDA artery present in the fetus fails to close properly, causing an excess blood flow to the lungs.

Peripheral vascular disease. When the same fat buildup that causes coronary artery disease occurs in arteries and veins supplying blood to other areas of the body.

Stroke. The condition that occurs when an artery or vessel that supplies blood to the brain either bursts or is blocked by a clot. Within minutes, the nerve cells in that area of the brain are damaged, and they may die within a few hours.

Sudden cardiac death. Death caused by dangerously fast electrical signals which limit the heart’s ability to pump blood to the body and brain.

Tetralogy of Fallot. Four cardiac malformations which appear together. Due to a hole in the wall between the ventricles and a narrowing in the outlet, blood lacking in oxygen is directed away from the lungs until the baby becomes increasingly blue. 

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