Answers FAQ

Heart Disease FAQs

Reviewed by Charles P. Davis, MD, PhD

Take the Heart Disease Quiz First! Before reading this FAQ, challenge yourself and
Test your Knowledge!

Q:If you have a heart attack, you also have heart disease. True or False?

A:True. If you have a heart attack, you have heart disease. Heart disease includes a number of conditions affecting the structures or function of the heart. Common forms of heart disease are coronary artery disease, arrhythmias, heart failure, and congenital heart disease, among many others that may lead to development of a heart attack.

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Q:What is meant by the term myocardial infarction?

A:Myocardial infarction is the medical term for heart attack.

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Q:Sudden cardiac arrest means that the heart what?

A:Stops beating. Cardiac arrest is the sudden loss of cardiac function, when the heart abruptly stops beating. Unless resuscitative efforts are begun immediately, cardiac arrest leads to death within a few minutes. This is often referred to by doctors as "sudden death" or "sudden cardiac death" (SCD).

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Q:What are symptoms of heart disease?

A:Dizziness, weakness, arm pain, pressure in the chest, Heart palpitations, shortness of breath, weakness and No symptoms at all. Because there are many forms of heart disease, there are many symptoms, including dizziness; weakness; pain that radiates to the arm, jaw, or throat; nausea; vomiting; shortness of breath; heart palpitations; chest pain, discomfort and heaviness. There are some forms of heart disease that produce no symptoms at all.

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Q:Heart disease is the leading cause of death of American women over the age of 25. True or False?

A:True. According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease is the leading killer of women over the age of 25. It kills nearly twice as many women in the United States than all types of cancer, including breast cancer.

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Q:What are risk factors for heart disease?

A:High blood pressure and high cholesterol, smoking and lack of exercise. High blood pressure and high cholesterol, smoking, and lack of exercise are contributors to heart disease, but it is necessary to include: diabetes and prediabetes, being overweight or obese, a diet high in fats, emotional stress, and excessive alcohol consumption as well as uncontrollable risk factors such as age, gender, and family history.

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Q:In the heart, a clogged artery causes a heart attack. What does a clogged brain artery cause?

A:Stroke. A stroke occurs when blood flow to a part of the brain is interrupted because a blood vessel in the brain has been blocked. This is called an ischemic stroke. Cerebral hemorrhagic strokes occur when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures and bleeds into the surrounding brain tissue.

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Q:When heart trouble is sensed, who waits at least two hours before help is called: Men or Women?

A:Both men and women. When it comes to heart trouble, Americans (males and females) typically wait at least two hours before calling for help. Know the warning signs and always call 911 within 5 minutes of when symptoms begin because waiting may allow heart trouble to become much worse.

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Q:The term "heart failure" means the heart has stopped working. True or False?

A:False. The term "heart failure" does not mean the heart has "failed" or stopped functioning. It means the heart does not pump as well as it should. This then leads to salt and water retention, causing edema (swelling) and shortness of breath, which are the primary symptoms of heart failure.

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Q:People can be born with heart disease. True or False?

A:True. People born with heart structure and function problems are said to have "congenital heart disease." Congenital (present at birth) heart disease refers to abnormal heart development before birth. It is the most common type of birth defect.

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Q:Has heart disease ever been responsible for half of the deaths in America?

A:Yes. By the late 1940s, cardiovascular disease was responsible for half of all U.S. deaths. Only six decades ago, we didn't know what caused cardiovascular disease, and many Americans died of heart attacks in their 50s or 60s.

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Q:The most common type of heart disease in the U.S. is?

A:Coronary artery disease. Coronary heart disease is usually caused by a condition called atherosclerosis, the narrowing of coronary arteries by cholesterol deposits, called plaques. If the arteries narrow enough, blood supply to the heart muscle may be compromised (slowed down), and this slowing of blood flow to the heart causes pain, or angina.

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Q:What is the medical term for chest pain?

A:Angina. Angina is chest pain that is due to an inadequate supply of oxygen to the heart muscle.

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