Over 50 different heart diseases affect the heart and/or the blood vessel system within it -- the most common is coronary artery disease. Congenital diseases are ones people are born with; other diseases develop over time. All of these conditions can affect arteries, veins, and the heart's electrical system, as well as areas of the heart, such as the chambers, valves, lining, and the heart muscle itself.
What Are Heart Diseases?
Heart diseases are diseases of the heart and the blood vessel system within the heart. Many people are surprised to learn that there many different heart diseases. In fact, there are over 50 types of heart diseases, the most common being coronary artery disease. This confusion may stem from the fact that coronary artery disease is often referred to simply as "heart disease."
Heart diseases fall within the broader category of cardiovascular diseases, which are conditions that not only affect the heart, but also the blood vessel system (arteries, capillaries, and veins) within a person's entire body, such as the brain, arms, legs, and lungs. "Cardio" refers to the heart; "vascular" refers to the blood vessel system.
Some people are born with heart diseases (such a disease is known as a congenital heart disease); others develop during a person's lifetime. Because there are so many types of heart diseases, it may be helpful to categorize them based on the areas of the heart or blood vessel system they affect, such as:
- Arteries and veins
- Electrical system
- Heart chambers
- Heart muscle itself
- Heart valves
- Heart lining.