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What causes heart disease?

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Quick Answer

Typical causes of heart disease include the formation of plaque in artery walls, smoking, high blood pressure, and irritants such as viruses, bacteria or chemicals. Specific causes vary with the particular heart disease. Common heart diseases include cardiovascular disease, heart arrhythmia, valvular heart disease, cardiomyopathy and heart infections, according to Mayo Clinic.

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Cardiovascular disease is a heart or blood vessel problem that results from the deposits of fatty plaques in the arteries, interfering with the flow of the blood through the arteries to the body tissues. Other causes include lack of exercise, unhealthy diets and being overweight, explains Mayo Clinic.

Heart arrhythmia is a heart condition characterized by irregular heartbeats. This disease can occur even in a person with a healthy heart. Causes include changes in the heart muscle, injury from a heart attack, electrolyte imbalance and healing process after surgery, notes WebMD.

The causes of cardiomyopathy, the thickening of the heart muscle, include a reduced flow of blood to the heart, toxins and high blood pressure. Others include excessive iron buildup and connective tissue disorders, states Mayo Clinic. A child may be born with valvular heart disease, or the heart valves may get damaged by conditions such as rheumatic fever and infectious endocarditis. Additionally, heart infections, such as myocarditis and endocarditis, occur from viruses, parasites and bacteria.

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