Multiple: Heart Diseases

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Multiple: Heart Diseases

Heart diseases are a group of disorders that affect the heart's ability to pump enough oxygenated blood to the rest of the body to meet its needs. Some heart diseases are caused by birth defects that slow down the flow of blood or change the path of the blood's flow between the heart and the lungs. Other heart diseases are caused by infectious diseases like rheumatic fever, which can cause an inflammation of the valves in the heart. Still others are caused by lifestyle choices like alcoholism, smoking, or failure to get treated for such conditions as diabetes or high blood pressure.

Heart diseases may involve damage to the heart muscle itself, damage to the valves inside the heart, or damage to the arteries that supply the heart. Partial or complete blockage of one of these arteries is the most common heart disease in the United States and can lead to a heart attack.

Heart diseases are the leading cause of death in North America and a major cause of disability. Almost 700,000 people die of heart disease in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That figure represents 29 percent of all American deaths.

SEE ALSO Congenital heart disease; Coronary artery disease; Heart attack; Heart failure; Hypercholesterolemia; Hypertension; Rheumatic fever

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Multiple: Heart Diseases

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