What is heart disease?

Heart disease – also called cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease – is a simple term used to describe several problems related to plaque buildup in the walls of the arteries, or atherosclerosis. As the plaque builds up, the arteries narrow, making it more difficult for blood to flow and creating a risk for heart attack or stroke.

Other types of heart disease include heart failure, an irregular heartbeat – or arrhythmia – and heart valve problems. To learn more about heart disease and conditions that can lead to heart disease, heart attack or stroke, browse any of the topics below.

Doctor Taking Woman's PulseArrhythmia
Learn about several types of arrhythmias, or irregular heartbeats. Some need treatment, many do not. Learn the difference.
Gray Gradient Three Generations of Women: Grandmother, Mother, and Daughter Heart Attack
After a heart attack, you can regain your life! Learn about the causes, therapies and treatments for heart attack.
Hands Only CPR Training Cardiac Arrest
Cardiac arrest is the sudden loss of heart function and strikes without warning. Know who is at risk and how to improve your odds for health.
Mother, Father, and Daughter Smiling Heart Failure
When your heart isn't pumping enough blood, it's a serious but manageable condition. You can live well and reduce your symptoms.
Woman on Treadmill while Blood Pressure is Monitored Cardiac Rehab
Advocate for a healthier you! Take an active role after a heart attack or heart disease diagnosis.
nurse and patient talking Heart Valve Problems and Disease
What happens when a heart valve is not working properly? Equip yourself with knowledge so you can get the right diagnosis and treatment plan.
Cardiomyopathy in Adults Thumnail ImageCardiomyopathy in Adults
This disease of the heart muscle often goes unrecognized. Knowledge can be a powerful preventative and treatment tool.
Middle Aged Couple Jogging High Blood Pressure
Untreated HBP damages and scars your arteries, which can have deadly consequences. Learn how to keep BP in the healthy range.
Thumbnail Of Child playing Airplane In FieldCardiovascular Conditions of Childhood
If your child has been diagnosed with a heart condition, you may have lots of questions. Find answers here.
Thumbnail Of Happy CoupleHIV and Your Heart
Learn how HIV affects your heart and how to improve your health one change at a time.
Smiling Family: Mother, Father, and Daughter Cholesterol
High cholesterol can put you at risk for heart disease or stroke. But you can improve your cholesterol numbers with a sound treatment plan.
Man and Woman Reading Medical DeviceMetabolic Syndrome
This group of factors can multiply your risks for heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Focused changes can improve your health.
Man Holding Newborn Baby Congenital Heart Defects
Children and adults can be diagnosed with a heart defect occurring at birth. Learn about the types of defects and available treatment options.
Man Stretching Leg Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)
PAD may occur when blood vessels of your legs, arms or torso are narrowed by plaque. Discover treatment and prevention options.
Three Middle Aged Adults Diabetes
Many diabetes patients fail to realize that heart disease and stroke are their No. 1 enemy. Find resources to help you manage your heart health.
  Doctor with Stethoscope and Male PatientStroke
Stroke occurs when a blood vessel either bursts or is blocked. It's the fourth leading cause of death, yet many risk factors are preventable.

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Our Interactive Cardiovascular Library has detailed animations and illustrations to help you learn about conditions, treatments and procedures related to heart disease and stroke.

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Answers by Heart Fact Sheets

Answers by Heart fact sheets

Learn and live with our downloadable patient information sheets. Dozens of topics in a question-and-answer format that's brief, easy to follow and easy to read.