Cardiac Diseases

Heart Diseases

Learn about heart diseases and their relation to stroke:


What is the heart and how does it function ?

The heart is a small muscular organ that works as a pump, that forwards blood to the arteries of the whole body, and receives blood from the body through veins. This occurs spontaneously with out stop. The heart is located in the center of chest  and composed of four chambers, two atria and two ventricles. There are four valves in the heart that blood flow through the chambers to and from the heart. The heart contracts 60 to 100 times per minute. Theses contractions pump around 3 to 5 liters of blood every minute. The heart is supplied by small arteries called the coronaries. Any stenosis or occlusion of theses coronaries lead to destruction of the heart muscle, which would lead to malfunction. 





What are the causes of heart diseases ?

Heart diseases are plenty and includes:

  • Hereditary diseases , which results from transferring an abnormal gene from either parents. Those disorders are rare any way.

  • Congenital diseases, where there will be an abnormality in the growth of the heart, leading to either muscular, valvular or vascular anomalies.

  • Acquired diseases, which are many, but summarized in the following table:

Rheumatic heart diseases:

Rheumatic valves occur as a result of repeated sore throat with a certain bacteria. This condition is becoming rare in Saudi Arabia.

Heart muscle diseases:

This is caused by:

  • Myocardial infarction (heart attack)

  • Chronic hypertension

  • Infection

  • Alcohol

  • Certain hereditary diseases

Coronary artery diseases:

Unfortunately, these diseases are increasing over the last few years in Saudi Arabia due to the increases of risk factors, like diabetes, smoking, high cholesterol, obesity and hypertension.


Who has a high risk to develop heart diseases ?

People with diabetes, high blood cholesterol and smokers have the highest risk to develop coronary artery diseases.


What are the symptoms of heart diseases ?

Heart diseases have many symptoms, which could be acute or chronic. Acute symptoms like sudden chest compressive pain, associated with increased seating and shortness of breath, is likely due to a heart attack (cardiac ischemia or infarction). Chronic symptoms, like plantations, shortness of breath on exertion, lower limb edema are likely due to weakness in the heart muscle or malfunctions of heart valves.


What is the relation between heart diseases and stroke ?

Heart diseases could the cause of a stroke. Rheumatic heart disease for example affects the valves, where platelets aggregate and form a small clot that might dislodge and travel through arteries and it reaches brain vessels and occlude them, causing a stroke. The most important heart diseases that carry a high risk for stroke are:

  • Atrial fibrillation

  • Rheumatic valvular diseases

  • Cardiomyopathy, particularly with intracardiac clot

  • Recent myocardial infarction

  • Congenital heart diseases


What should be done to maintain a healthy heart ?

Primary prevention is the key to a health heart. The following should be followed:

  • Periodical screening for blood glucose level, cholesterol and blood pressure level every 3 to 5 years following the age of 20 years and yearly following the age of 40 years.

  • Smoking abundant

  •  Regular exercise

  • Weight maintenance

  • Alcohol abundant

  • Low fat diet