About Heart Disease
Heart disease can take many forms, but the most common types are listed here. In the video below, Dr. Glenn Barnhart, medical director of Swedish Heart & Vascular Institute, provides an overview of coronary artery disease.
Coronary Artery Disease
This most common type of heart disease occurs when a thick, fatty substance called plaque builds up inside the arteries, making it hard for blood to flow and carry oxygen to the heart.
Damage to the heart muscle reduces its pumping power and allows blood and other fluids to back up and circulate in other parts of the body. The heart is at risk of becoming oxygen-deprived.
When something happens to disturb the heart’s internal electrical signal, it can’t pump the way it should. It may beat too fast or too slow, both of which can lead to cardiac problems.
Four valves control the direction and flow of blood as it enters and leaves the heart. Valve disease keeps the valve from opening and closing the way it should. A narrowed valve blocks the normal flow of blood, forcing the heart to work harder to force the blood through. In a leaky valve, some of the blood leaks backward, which also affects blood flow.