Heart and Vascular Diseases and Conditions

Heart and vascular diseases and conditions encompass any ailment affecting the heart muscle, the sac around the heart, the valves, the arteries leading to and away from the heart, veins, or the electrical conduction system. Please explore here to identify some of the most common cardiovascular diseases and conditions. Click on a topic to learn more.

Acute limb ischemia
Patients with this syndrome have an acute occlusion of an artery and develop pain, coldness, weakness and numbness or tingling beyond the area that is occluded. Associated medical conditions related to its development are heart failure, angina, arrhythmia, peripheral arterial disease, nicotine abuse, claudication, prior vascular procedures or a history of clotting disorders or prior events. Weakness and paralysis generally imply a poor prognosis. Medical attention should be sought immediately if you experience any or a combination of the symptoms above.
Angina pectoris is usually described as a pressure, squeezing, heaviness, or constriction in the chest but is often characterized as burning, aching, or indigestion. It typically occurs during exertion, after heavy meals, or emotional states such as fear, anger, or excitement. It usually lasts for 5-30 minutes, brought on by exertion and relieved with cessation of the activity or circumstance that caused it. Medical attention should be sought. If you are experiencing angina and the symptoms do not resolve, urgent medical attention should be sought.
Aortic aneurysms
Defined as a dilatation of the segment of a blood vessel and is usually associated with atherosclerosis. There are many other non-atherosclerotic causes of aneurysmal formation. They usually DO NOT produce symptoms, however as they begin to expand they can become painful. Aneurysms can also leak or form clots that can lead to peripheral embolization. Aneurysms are usually detected by guideline driven screening in patients who are at risk especially those with familial inheritance patterns or at risk from a clinical perspective i.e. smokers.
Aortic dissections
Caused by a tearing of a layer of the aorta’s lining, it usually causes the acute onset of sudden pain and severe pain that may be felt in the back or front of the chest commonly in the inter-scapular region and associated with sweating. Uncommonly syncope, shortness and weakness can occur. This is a medical emergency.
These are a collective group of electrical disorders that arise from the heart’s electrical system. They can be precipitated by a wide variety of conditions including electrolyte abnormalities, myocardial ischemia, weakness of the heart muscle and others. Symptoms may include palpitations, light-headedness, dizziness, syncope, chest pain, and fluttering, to name a few.
This term, derived from the ancient Greeks, refers to hardening and gruel formation within the artery itself. There is an accumulation of lipid in the lining of the artery wall that occurs for different reasons. Depending upon where the deposition occurs and to what extent it gets manifested, it can cause arterial localized issues causing heart attack, stroke, peripheral arterial disease, renal arterial disease and others. There are familial causes for the development of atherosclerosis and also man-assisted causes including dietary and or environmental exposure causes like nicotine.
Atrial fibrillation
This is an abnormal heart rhythm characterized by disorganized activity of the atrium (top chamber) of the heart. It can be seen in normal subjects but is more commonly associated with patients under duress, post surgery, acute alcoholic intoxication, valvular heart disease, hypertensive heart disease, chronic lung disease, thyroid disease to name a few. The most feared complication of this rhythm is stroke. If left untreated, other significant manifestations can arise as well, including heart failure.
Cardiogenic shock
In general this is a state of failure of the circulatory system; it fails to maintain adequate perfusion of blood flow to cells and therefore reduces the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to tissues. This specific type of shock results from severe depression of the heart’s performance, usually in the setting of a heart attack, but also can be caused by other mechanical abnormalities, e.g. chronic or acute valvular heart disease.
These are diseases that involve the heart muscle itself and are not necessarily the direct result of hypertension, congenital, valvular, coronary, arterial or pericardial abnormalities. They are either primary, meaning with no known cause, or secondary, meaning they are associated with diseases of other organ systems. These may include but are not limited to: Hemochromatosis, systemic lupus, sarcoidosis, radiation and others.
Carotid artery disease
This occurs when there has been atherosclerosis and plaque formation inside the carotid artery. Approximately 30% of strokes occur as a result of blockage that develops in the segments of these arteries outside of the brain. Disease of the carotid arteries can also occur inside the brain and this is referred to as intra-cranial disease.
Chronic venous insufficiency
This condition is a direct result of chronic venous valve incompetence, where blood flow leaks back through one-way valves normally responsible for bringing blood flow to the heart. It can also occur as a result of deep venous obstruction from a prior deep vein thrombosis. It is a common cause of edema and one of the most common causes of leg ulceration in the United States.
Congenital heart disease
These conditions afflict approximately 1% of all live births. Due to increasing successful medical and surgical management many children now are able to reach adulthood. They are a result of malformations of normal structure and function of the heart due to abnormal embryonic developmental genetic predispositions.
Coronary artery disease
This is the most common chronic, serious, life-threatening condition in the modern world. It has a wide spectrum of manifestations that usually results in a reduction of the cross sectional area by accumulated plaque decreasing blood flow to the heart. More acute forms can result in rupture or erosion of the lipid rich plaque resulting in a heart attack.
Chronic limb ischemia
Chronic critical limb ischemia is manifested by pain at rest, non-healing wounds and gangrene. Ischemic rest pain is typically described as a burning pain in the arch or distal foot that occurs while the patient is laying flat but is relieved when the patient returns to a position in which the feet are dependent.
Deep venous thrombosis
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a blood clot forms in one or more of the deep veins in your body, most commonly in your legs. Deep vein thrombosis can cause swelling or pain, but may occur without any symptoms. Certain medical conditions that affect how your blood clots may be the cause. Deep vein thrombosis is not uncommonly seen in patients who don’t move for a long time, such as after surgery, following an accident, or when you are confined to a hospital or nursing home bed. Deep vein thrombosis is a serious condition because blood clots in your veins can break loose, travel through your bloodstream and lodge in your lungs, blocking blood flow (pulmonary embolism).
Pulmonary embolism
Pulmonary embolism is an obstruction in one of the pulmonary arteries in your lungs. In most cases, it is caused by blood clots that travel to the lungs from the legs or, rarely, other parts of the body (deep vein thrombosis). Pulmonary embolism almost always occurs in conjunction with deep vein thrombosis. Although anyone can develop deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism, factors such as immobility, cancer and surgery increase your risk. This is a medical emergency and can be a life threatening, but prompt identification and treatment can reduce the risk of death.
Fainting (syncope)
Fainting is a temporary loss of consciousness. Though temporary, fainting can signify a more serious medical condition. Injuries may occur when you lose consciousness. Vasovagal syncope is a common cause of fainting. It occurs when your body overreacts to specific triggers, for example, the sight of blood or extreme emotional distress, or can occur when a person is dehydrated.
Heart attack (myocardial infarction)
A heart attack or myocardial infarction is a life threatening condition where a blood clot forms in the artery of the heart thereby preventing blood to supply flow to the heart muscle. The heart muscle begins to die almost immediately but techniques can be used to promptly restore flow to the heart to minimize injury and prevent death.
Heart failure
More commonly known as congestive heart failure. A condition where an injured or weakened heart muscle cannot pump enough blood flow to meet the metabolic demands of the body.
Heart murmur
Heart murmurs are sounds during your heartbeat cycle, such as whooshing or swishing, made by turbulent blood in or near your heart. These sounds are usually audible by your doctor using his or her stethoscope. A normal heartbeat makes two sounds like “lubb-dubb” which are the sounds of your heart valves closing. Heart murmurs can be present at birth (congenital) or develop later in life. A heart murmur isn’t a disease but murmurs may indicate an underlying heart problem. Often, heart murmurs are harmless and don’t need treatment. Some heart murmurs may require follow-up tests to be sure the murmur isn’t caused by a serious underlying heart condition.
Heart palpitations
Palpitations are a commonly described symptom for many patients. The cause is usually benign. Patient may describe anything from a heart fluttering sensation to extra beats in their chest or throat.
Heart valve disease
The heart valves are one-way valves that help regulate flow through the heart. Disorders or conditions may arise that can result in dysfunction of the valves. The valves may either become stenotic or restricted in their motion or they may become damaged or stretched allowing leakage of blood in the reverse direction.
High cholesterol
This occurs when the circulating levels of your cholesterol are too high. Specifically, when your LDL is elevated it can increase the risk of plaque formation and deposition resulting in atherosclerosis.
High blood pressure is a common condition in which the force of the blood against your artery walls is high enough that it may eventually cause health problems, such as heart disease. Blood pressure is determined both by the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. This process is almost always asymptomatic, but uncontrolled and or untreated high blood pressure may lead to significant medical problems and predispose you to having a heart attack, stroke, or kidney failure.
Infective endocarditis
Infective endocarditis (IE) is an infection of the lining or valve surface of the heart. It can lead to severe valvular leakage, congestive heart failure and myocardial abscesses. If left untreated, IE is often fatal.
Edema (leg swelling)
Swelling caused by excess fluid trapped in your body’s tissues. While it can affect any part of your body, it’s most commonly noticed in the hands, arms, feet, ankles and legs.” open=”no” style=”default” icon=”plus” anchor=”” anchor_in_url=”no” class=””]Swelling can can be the result of medication, pregnancy or an underlying disease — often heart failure, kidney disease or cirrhosis of the liver.
Light headed/Dizziness
A sensation of loss of balance, unsteadiness on one’s feet, or feeling that one might pass out or lose consciousness.
Metabolic syndrome
This is a grouping of risk factors for cardiovascular disease that includes hypertension, hypertriglyceridemia, low levels of high-density lipoprotein, insulin resistance, and obesity. Its presence has paralleled the rise in obesity and is present in approximately 40% of persons in the United States over the age of 60. People afflicted with this condition are twice as likely to develop heart disease and 5 times more likely to develop diabetes than people without the condition.
The most common abnormal process involving the sac that covers the heart. It is an inflammation of this sac that usually causes pain with breathing and can lead to an accumulation of fluid around the heart possibly causing cardiac tamponade, which is a medical emergency as the fluid can compress the heart and prevent it contracting normally.
Peripheral Arterial disease
An often under-diagnosed medical condition, PAD is a silent killer as it is usually associated with an elevated risk of heart attack and stroke. The condition, created by progressive and often partially obstructed blood vessels in the legs, can lead to pain with walking (claudication). Advanced disease may lead to ulceration or oft-feared limb loss especially in persons with diabetes or smoking. See the video below showing physicians and industry professionals training to do peripheral vascular interventions.

Reno vascular conditions
Usually caused by obstructive renal artery disease or stenosis that can occur due to plaque formation or other medical conditions such as fibro-muscular dysplasia or FMD. Reduced blood flow to the kidneys may lead to difficult to control blood pressure, kidney insufficiency, overt renal failure and pulmonary edema.
This is the third leading cause of death and number one cause of disability in patients worldwide. It is caused by an abrupt cessation of blood flow to the brain and may arise due to artery embolization, progressive plaque formation, malignantly elevated blood pressure and other medically related conditions.
Sudden cardiac death
Cardiac disorders are the most common cause of this type of death. This is a direct consequence of the heart ceasing activity usually to an abnormal lethal heart rhythm that occurs from a multitude of underlying cardiac conditions. It is usually reversible if identified and responded to in a timely fashion with advanced cardiac life support measures, not uncommonly defibrillation.