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Our hearts are key to our survival. The American Heart Association says each day your heart beats about 100,000 times and moves 2,000 gallons of blood.
The heart is divided into four chambers.
The atria act as reservoirs for the blood before it moves on to the larger ventricles. The ventricles are the strong pumps of the heart with the left one, the one that pushes blood out to most of the body, being the strongest. The job of the heart’s valves is to keep the blood moving all in one direction, but problems can occur. Valve problems can be congenital, or they can result from aging, infection, or diseases. Valve disorders can also lead to other heart problems such as congestive heart failure.
Here are more causes of heart disease:
Congenital Heart Defects:
Heart defects are among the most common birth defects in the United States, according to the March of Dimes, affecting nearly one in every 100 births. Congenital (meaning present at birth) heart defects can affect any part of the heart. They can range from problems that pose no health risks to problems that are life threatening. Sometimes congenital heart defects produce early symptoms, such as gray or bluish skin tone. Sometimes symptoms are delayed for years. Occasionally, congenital heart defects produce no symptoms at all. One thing congenital heart defects have in common is that in most cases, we don’t exactly know why they develop.
Potential risk factors include:
- Medications taken during pregnancy
- Viruses affecting the mother during pregnancy.
Women with chronic conditions such as diabetes are also at higher risk, and need to monitor their condition closely during pregnancy. Children with other issues, such as Down syndrome, are also at increased risk.
As we age, our arteries tend to thicken, get stiffer and narrow. That is called arteriosclerosis. A form of arteriosclerosis is atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is the build-up of plaque and cholesterol in large and medium sized arteries. A narrowing of the arteries from a build-up of plaque can lead to coronary heart disease. This can affect even the smallest arteries in the body, for example the tiny arteries that feed the heart.
The first symptoms of both secondary and primary PH are frequently tiredness, with many patients thinking they tire easily because they are simply out of shape.
- Difficulty in breathing (dyspnea)
- Fainting spells (syncope)
- Swelling in the ankles or legs (edema)
- Bluish lips and skin (cyanosis)
- Chest pain (angina)
Patients with PPH may also complain of a racing pulse and many feel they have trouble getting enough air. Palpitations, a strong throbbing sensation brought on by the increased rate of the heartbeat, can also cause discomfort.
In cases of secondary pulmonary hypertension, where the cause is known, it is important to try to get the causes under control. However, once you have pulmonary hypertension (especially if you’ve had it for some time), curing the disease that caused it may not make it go away. You may also need additional treatment.