While the chances of having any of these issues are rare, it’s not impossible
The word “rare” can help calm our inner hypochondriac. Arming yourself with the knowledge of rare diseases can also help individuals recognize the warning signs of an uncommon ailment. Here are 9 heart conditions that most people aren’t aware of:
- Tricuspid atresia. While this may sound like a deep-sea creature, it’s actually a very serious condition. The “tricuspid” is a heart valve; tricuspid atresia is when this valve is either missing or deformed.
- Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC). ARVC causes fibrofatty replacement in the heart’s right ventricle and in the subepicardial of the left ventricle. Symptoms may include heart palpitations or loss of consciousness and can lead to sudden cardiac arrest.
- Kounis syndrome. This is the clinical name for an allergic reaction that causes angina (severe chest pain) or a heart attack. When histamine is released by the body, it can cause spasms in the heart’s blood vessels, restricting blood flow and producing chest pain.
- Cardiac syndrome X. While originally identified as “Syndrome X,” today, most cardiologist know it as the more descriptive “microvascular angina.” The condition is characterized by abnormalities in the heart’s micro-arteries that lead to angina.
- Takotsubo cardiomyopathy. “A pot used for trapping octopus” – that’s what “takotsubo” means in Japanese. Sometimes referred to as “stress cardiomyopathy” or “broken-heart syndrome,” people suffering from this condition have an abnormally-shaped heart. The syndrome is thought to be a reaction to emotional stress and can manifest in chest pain and shortness of breath.
- Prinzmetal angina. Also known as coronary artery spasm, variant angina, or angina inversa, this particular type of chest pain is caused by spasms in the vessels that nourish the heart muscle. Similar to Kounis syndrome, these spasms restrict blood flow to the heart, resulting in angina.
- Right heart hypoplasia. This congenital defect of the heart is marked by underdevelopment of the right atrium and ventricle. The abnormality can prevent the lungs from receiving adequate blood flow.
- Torsades de pointes. The name of this condition refers to the ECG patterns produced by the heart in these cases. The abnormal heart rhythms expressed by these ECG readings can have life-threatening implications. While in most cases there’s not an imminent risk of sudden cardiac arrest, as the condition advances, the risk increases.
- Barlow’s syndrome. When any of the mitral valve flaps fail to close as they should or one is floppy, the patient is diagnosed with Barlow’s syndrome. Although many patients don’t present with symptoms, it’s one of the more common of these uncommon heart conditions.
A broader view of heart disease
Of course, these conditions are rare. However, all forms of heart disease combined are the leading cause of death for both men and women, with Coronary Artery Disease (CHD) being the leading contributor. CHD is caused by the build-up of plaque in the walls of arteries that lead to the heart – meaning it can often be mitigated or prevented with healthy lifestyle choices.
In general, diseases affecting the heart are classified into separate genres. If you’d like to learn more about the primary types of heart disease, we encourage you to read our blog, “Defining the Five Types of Heart Disease”.