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Heart and Vascular Disease: A Guide by Carolina Cardiologists

March 10, 2022

In medicine, cardiovascular, heart, and coronary heart disease are sometimes used in place of one another to describe conditions associated with the heart and blood vessels. However, there are differences between these terms and they encompass different conditions.

Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease is more closely related to diseases of your heart, as well as blood vessels in your body.

When fatty deposits build up inside arteries, you are more likely to be at risk of cardiovascular disease and its associated conditions like blood clots, or damage to vital organs like the brain, heart, kidneys, and eyes.

Cardiovascular disease describes two main conditions.

1. Coronary heart disease: Angina, Heart Attacks, and Heart Failure

When arteries are no longer able to supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle or are impaired by plaque buildup, this puts additional stress on the heart and can lead to heart attacks, angina (chest pain), and eventually, heart failure.

A heart attack occurs when blood flow to the heart is suddenly blocked. Heart attacks affect around 800,000 Americans a year and are a medical emergency.

Angina is a type of chest pain that happens when blood flow to the heart is restricted or reduced. This condition can come on suddenly, or recur over time.

Whereas heart attacks happen suddenly and angina recurs over time with different levels of severity, heart failure is a long-term condition that gradually worsens.

Heart failure is a condition in which the heart has become too weak to pump and circulate blood around the body. It does not mean the heart has stopped working entirely, and although it’s often incurable, heart failure symptoms can be controlled for long periods of time with lifestyle changes and medication.

2. Strokes

Strokes take place when the blood supply to the brain is suddenly blocked. Strokes can lead to long-term complications with one’s brain, and some people will need rehabilitation before they are able to live independently again after experiencing a stroke.

Heart Disease

Heart disease is a broader term for conditions and diseases associated with the heart, but are related specifically to conditions like arrhythmia.


Arrhythmia is a condition in which your heartbeat is irregular. You can experience fluttering feelings in your chest, (also known as heart palpitations) as well as problems with the rate and rhythm of your heartbeat.

Arrhythmia is alarming to experience, and is often the cause of previous heart attacks and scarring, or blocked arteries.

If left unaddressed, arrhythmia can lead to heart failure and additional heart attacks.

Common Conditions and Symptoms

Heart disease, as well as cardiovascular disease, are often the result of conditions like high blood pressure or lifestyle habits like smoking. Although smoking is more often associated with a risk for lung disease or cancer, smoking increases the amount and the formation of plaque in important blood vessels.

Cigarettes can cause blood to thicken, resulting in clots inside veins or arteries.

Additionally, an active lifestyle with plenty of daily exercise can be worthwhile for preventing future occurrences of heart disease. Being sedentary allows fatty materials to build up, and over time, can lead to clogged arteries which can lead to heart attack and stroke.

Champions of the Heart

Chest pain should not be ignored. Any instance of severe or building chest pain should be talked about with a doctor. But if you want to avoid extensive tests inside a hospital, you may not be aware that there are other options available.

At Champion Heart & Vascular, Dr. Ramaraj and Dr. Sheshadri strive to make your cardiology exam convenient and cost-effective — that we can help you determine which conditions might be putting you at risk of heart disease, and together, determine the best way forward.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment.