The main problems in the heart are:
- Build-up of fatty plaque in coronary arteries (called coronary artery disease, coronary heart disease, or atherosclerosis)
- Damage or disease in the valves including leaks (regurgitation) and narrowing (stenosis)
- Irregular, fast, or slow heartbeats (called heart arrhythmias)
- Weakened heart muscle (called heart failure)
- Enlarged heart muscle (called cardiomyopathy)
One heart problem often leads to another. For example, an irregular heartbeat can cause heart failure, and a blocked coronary artery can upset the heartbeat. These problems can lead to symptoms such as palpitations, weakness, swelling, or shortness of breath; they can also cause deadly conditions such as heart attacks, strokes, or cardiac arrest.
The main problems in the vascular system are:
- Build-up of fatty plaque in artery walls (called atherosclerosis)
- Blood clots in veins or arteries (called thrombosis)
- Weakness or bulging in artery walls (called aneurysm)
- Disease, inflammation, or physical injury in arteries or veins
The main trouble spots for vascular disease are the neck arteries leading to the brain (carotid arteries), the leg arteries and veins, the aorta, and the arteries supplying the kidneys and intestines. These problems can lead to blocked blood flow or life-threatening strokes, lung clots, kidney failure, infections, or internal bleeding.