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What is Heart Disease?

Heart disease is a broad term used to describe a range of diseases that affect your heart. The various diseases that fall under the umbrella of heart disease include diseases of your blood vessels, such as coronary artery disease; heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias); heart infections; and heart defects you're born with (congenital heart defects).

The term "heart disease" is often used interchangeably with "cardiovascular disease." Cardiovascular disease generally refers to conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack, chest pain (angina) or stroke. Other heart conditions, such as infections and conditions that affect your heart's muscle, valves or beating rhythm, also are considered forms of heart disease.

Many forms of heart disease can be prevented or treated with healthy lifestyle choices. Heart disease is easier to treat when it's detected early, so talk to your doctor about any concerns you have about your heart health. If you don't have known heart disease but are concerned about developing heart disease, talk to your doctor about steps you can take to reduce your heart disease risk. This is especially important if you have a family history of heart disease.

If you think you may have heart disease, based on new signs or symptoms you've been having, make an appointment to see your doctor.

For more information on heart disease and related conditions, contact any of the following organizations:

American Heart Association
7272 Greenville Ave.
Dallas, TX 75231
Phone: 1-800-242-8721
Website: http://www.heart.org/

The Children's Heart Foundation
PO Box 244
Lincolnshire, IL 60069-0244
Phone: 1-888-248-8140
Website: http://www.childrensheartfoundation.org/

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