Dr. Rachel: What is Heart Disease?

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

We have all heard the term heart disease. But what exactly is it?

Well your heart is such an important organ that it has its own blood supply. Its blood supply comes from the coronary vessels on the outside of your heart.

If you have high cholesterol, the cholesterol can build up in your coronary arteries forming plaques which cause narrowing.  So, blood flow is decreased to your heart.  You begin to have symptoms such as chest pressure or discomfort.  This is called angina.

When these plaques totally block an artery, no blood is going to that area of your heart and BAM! you have a heart attack.  You can also have a heart attack if one of these plaques breaks off and blocks one of your coronary arteries.

Over time, decreased flow to your heart weakens it and can lead to heart failure, a serious condition where your heart can’t pump blood the way that it should. It can also lead to an irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia which can be deadly.

That is why heart health is so important.