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How Heart Disease Affects Your Body

by Rishabh

Heart diseases are of various kinds, from small infections to big problems like blocked arteries. This problem is actually not one issue but a combination of a number of problems, which not only trouble our hearts but also have a harmful effect on our bodies. All these can result in heart strokes and heart attacks, which is one of the main reasons in both men as well as women.

How Heart Disease Affects Your Body

Working of a Heart

There are four chambers in a heart- atria (two on the top) and ventricles (two placed below). Our lungs release blood rich on oxygen, into the left atrium, that goes to the left atrium. This blood is then pumped into the body. This blood now gets returned to the right atrium, which then comes to the right ventricle. The blood now gets to the lungs for oxygen. These 4 valves in our heart act like one-way door for the blood and the heart. If a person is suffering from a heart problem, there can be a glitch in this working.

Coronary Heart Disease or CHD

Coronary Heart Disease, simply known as CHD is known to be one of the most common kind of heart disease. Under this heart condition, plaque, a wax-like material starts building up in the arteries. Initially this does not poses any signs, but as the stage advances, the arteries start narrowing up in the same manner as a pipe gets blocked. This leads to limited flow of blood to the muscles of the heart.

[Also Read: A Guide to Minimally Invasive Heart Bypass Surgery]

Result of CHD

When the flow of blood is not proper, the heart does not receives the amount of oxygen it requires. This leads to angina or chest pain in the case of doing heavy labor or while exercising. This also affects the heart’s capacity to pump blood, causing lack of oxygen in the rest of the body. When there is less of oxygen and blood, the cells in the body do not work in proper order, which leaves a person more tired and with a feeling of shortness of breath. Heart attack is caused when an artery gets choked completely due to break down in plaque.

Condition of CHD in Women and Men

The effect of CHD is different in men and women. While women might experience pressure or tightness in chest, men most of the times experience severe pain in chest. Women may also experience discomfort, nausea, and shortness of breath. The main cause of this can be that women get blockage in smaller arteries.

Heart Valve Disease

Valves are like covers which open and close with every heartbeat, guiding the blood through the heart. This also leads to sound in the heart. The valves in the heart can get affected due to the following:

  • In backflow, blood does backward instead of forward from the valve.
  • In stenosis, the covers become thick or inflexible, or join together, causing less blood to go through.
  • In atresia, the flow of blood stops, as the valve does not opens.

Result of Heart Valve Disease

Results vary from person to person. While some experience sudden effects, others do not feel anything for years. Whatever the condition be, it only gets worse. Whoosh or swish sound between the heartbeats is the main sign of this condition. When there is a problem in the valve, the heart has to work harder, and also leading to problems in the flow of blood. The person experiences:

  • Shortness of breath
  • More tiredness than normal
  • Swelling feet, legs, belly or ankles


A person sometimes experiences a feeling that he has skipped a beat or his heart is fluttering. This condition is called something called arrhythmia. It is said that this condition is basically harmless. As the heartbeat is managed by short eruptions of electricity, this kind of thing is mainly not a problem. However, if the condition worsens, the heart is not able to work properly, leading to some kind of serious issue.

[Also Read: Warning Signs of a Heart Attack]

When the Heart misplaces its Rhythm

In case of such kind of electrical bursts, our heart sometimes beats slower than the usual or may start to race. Because of this the muscles and organs might not get the required amount of oxygen, causing lightheaded, pain in chest or one might even faint. If the heart loses its rhythm completely, the heart shivers like gelatin and cannot pump blood. This life-threatening condition is called fibrillation.


Cardiomyopathy is not one disease but a group of diseases because of which the muscles of the heart get inflexible, thick or become larger than the normal. With time, the heart grows weaker. It becomes difficult for the heart to keep its rhythm and pump blood. This condition generally happens in the left ventricle. If and when the condition worsens, blood cannot be pumped properly by ventricle, which starts getting collected in the heart.

Result of Cardiomyopathy

The flow of blood is limited and oxygen becomes short when the muscles of heart thicken-up. The heart loses its rhythm as it pounds, flutters or starts racing. The lower amount of blood can also cause problem with kidneys as they may begin holding out on more amounts of salt and waters. This results in swelling in organs, legs, feet and ankles.

Heart Infections

In the same manner as other body parts, germs like viruses and bacteria can lead to infections in heart also. This also is a kind of heart problem. This infection can come slowly as well as quickly. If not treated, while some infections become life-threatened, some go away just like that.

Signs of Heart Infection

The signs of heart infection depend on where the infection is. If there is swelling and pain in the chest, infection can be around the heart’s sac. Or, if there is infection in the replaced heart valve, germs get build-up, finally breaking off, leading to issues with the body organs. In case of other infection, there can be strain of the heart, leading to fever, change in rhythm, tiredness, and shortness of breath.

Congenital Heart Defects

Congenital heart defects are those health issues with whom a person is born. This has an adverse effect on how the blood flows from the heart. This happens when they valves, walls or the blood vessels do not develop properly before birth. There are certain issues like a hole in the heart’s chamber either need no treatment or can get fixed easily, then there are others such a missing valve, which needs proper long-term care.

Effect of Heart Defects on the Body

Heart defects do not lead to pain but if the flow of blood is not proper, the body does not gets the required amount of oxygen. Conditions like persistent tiredness, bluish skin and shortness of breath can happen. As the heart has to work harder, there can be heart failure as the heart is week and cannot pump blood properly. This causes conditions like fluid in the lungs, arrhythmia, and problem in breathing.

[Read more on Cardiology Treatment in India]

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