Published on 6 May, 2022
The heart is a muscular organ that beats at a regular rhythm and pumps oxygenated blood throughout the body through a network of blood vessels. Several terms are commonly used while referring to heart disorders. Here is a brief explanation of some of these terms:
Diseases affecting the heart and the blood vessels are broadly called cardiovascular diseases, where cardio refers to the heart and vascular refers to the blood vessels.
Myocardial infarction / Heart Attack
The heart muscle requires a constant supply of oxygenated blood, which is supplied by arteries called the coronary arteries. An obstruction in a major coronary artery could result in a dead patch of the heart muscle, which could affect its pumping activity. This condition is referred to as myocardial infarction or heart attack.
The heart contains natural pacemakers and nerves due to which it beats rhythmically. The terms flutter and fibrillation are often used to describe abnormal rhythms. While minor abnormalities may not affect the pumping effect of the heart, conditions such as ventricular fibrillation could be fatal.
Cardiac arrest is a condition where the heart suddenly stops beating. It could be a consequence of reduced blood supply to the heart as a heart attack. Other conditions that may result in a cardiac arrest include conditions affecting the heart muscle called cardiomyopathies and heart failure, conditions affecting the rhythmic beating of the heart, for example, long QT syndrome, diseases affecting the heart valves or congenital heart disorders such as tetralogy of Fallot.
Heart failure is a condition where pumping effect of the heart is reduced. It could occur due to a reduced blood supply to the heart due to a heart attack or a disease of the heart muscle referred to as cardiomyopathy. Heart failure could also be a consequence of conditions that increase the work of the heart such as high thyroid hormone levels, high blood pressure or kidney disease.
Shock is a condition where the blood pressure falls to such low levels, that blood supply to vital organs is affected. It could be due to a failure of the heart to pump blood, a reduced volume of blood within the blood vessels due to dehydration or blood loss, or even a severe allergic reaction.
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