What is Cardiopathy?

D. Jeffress
D. Jeffress
The anatomy of a heart attack.
The anatomy of a heart attack.

Cardiopathy is a medical term that can refer to several different types of heart disease. The condition can involve the weakening of the heart muscle, a structural abnormality, or a blockage that affects the heart's ability to pump blood throughout the body. Cardiopathy can arise because of inherited and congenital disorders, unhealthy lifestyle choices, and acquired medical conditions like high blood pressure. Without an accurate diagnosis and treatment, heart disease is usually fatal. There are many different medical and treatment options, however, that can improve a person's chances of overcoming cardiopathy.

Most cases of heart disease stem from unhealthy lifestyle choices.
Most cases of heart disease stem from unhealthy lifestyle choices.

Heart disease may be caused by a number of different factors. Some defects are present at birth, while other conditions do not arise until later in life. Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol, smoking, and eating unhealthy foods greatly increases the risk of developing high blood pressure and atherosclerosis, a condition in which arteries become blocked with buildups of hardened cholesterol. Arterial blockages are a leading cause of heart problems because blood cannot be efficiently pumped through the heart. Cardiomyopathy is another common form of heart disease in which the heart muscle is weakened and thereby inhibited from functioning properly.

An individual with a mild form of cardiopathy may not notice any physical symptoms. In more serious and progressive cases, a person can experience shortness of breath, chest pain, frequent dizzy spells, and fatigue. Some types of heart disease cause swelling in the extremities, fever, and coughing. Left untreated, cardiopathy can result in a sudden heart attack or stroke. In order to prevent fatal complications, it usually is very important for an individual to visit his or her doctor at the first signs of heart trouble.

A doctor can diagnose cardiopathy by gathering information about a patient's symptoms, previous medical concerns, and family history. The physician can take x-rays and ultrasounds to look for structural problems, and conduct an electrocardiogram test to detect abnormal heart activity. If the doctor cannot determine the cause of heart disease, he or she can order a biopsy to carefully analyze heart tissue. Once a diagnosis has been made, the doctor can decide on the best course of treatment.

Many heart problems can be treated with prescription medications and healthy lifestyle changes. Patients are generally instructed to quit smoking, exercise regularly, and maintain a nutritious diet to preserve heart health. Medications are available to reduce high blood pressure and clear arterial blockages. In emergency conditions, patients may need to undergo surgical procedures to correct defects or immediately remove blockages. Surgeons may decide to bypass damaged vessels or arteries or implant artificial devices to take the place of damaged heart components.

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