Types of Cardiovascular Disease

Coronary Heart Disease

Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) is the most common form of heart disease. It occurs when the arteries supplying blood to the heart narrow or harden from the build-up of plaque. Plaque is made up of fat, cholesterol and other substances found in the blood. This plaque build-up is also known as atherosclerosis. The site of the plaque determines the type of heart disease:

  • Coronary artery disease is the build-up of plaque in the arteries supplying blood to the heart.
  • Peripheral artery disease is the build-up of plaque in the arteries supplying blood to the arms and legs.
  • Carotid artery disease is the build-up of plaque in the arteries that supply blood to the brain.

The decrease in blood flow due to plaque build-up can lead to chest pain, also called angina, or progress to a heart attack. The five most common symptoms of a heart attack are:

  • Chest pressure or pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain or discomfort in the arms or shoulder
  • Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck or back
  • Feeling weak, lightheaded, or nauseous

Women often have different symptoms of heart attack from men. The most common symptoms reported by women are:

  • Unusual fatigue
  • sleep disturbance
  • shortness of breath
  • indigestion

If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of a heart attack, call 9-1-1 immediately. The faster people are treated for a heart attack, the better their chances of survival and good recovery. To learn more about CHD visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Heart Association, or the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.

For more information on Coronary Heart Disease and other Cardiovascular Diseases go to Cardiovascular Disease Reports (Including Heart Disease and Stroke)

Heart Failure

Heart failure is a condition that occurs slowly over time. Heart failure occurs after an injury to the heart muscle, usually caused by uncontrolled high blood pressure, a heart attack, or a heart valve that does not work properly. The weakened heart muscle has to work overtime to keep up with the body's demands, which can leave a person tired. Some of the symptoms of heart failure:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing when lying down
  • Swelling in the legs, ankles, and feet
  • General fatigue and weakness.

Risk factors that increase your chances of developing heart failure:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attack
  • Damage to a heart valve or a history of a murmur
  • Enlargement of the heart or a family history of an enlarged heart
  • Diabetes

For more information about heart failure visit the American Heart Association.


For more information about stroke visit the NYSDOH Stroke home page.