Although coronary heart disease (CAD) is the most common type of heart disease, there are several other types. Some of the other more common types of heart disease include abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias), heart failure, heart valve disease, heart muscle disease, and congenital heart disease.

  • Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common type of heart disease. In CAD, the arteries carrying blood to the heart muscle (the coronary arteries) become lined with plaque, which contains materials such as cholesterol and fat. This plaque buildup (called atherosclerosis) causes the arteries to narrow, allowing less oxygen to reach the heart muscle than it needs to work properly. When the heart muscle does not receive enough oxygen, chest pain (angina) or heart attack can occur.
  • Arrhythmia is an irregular or abnormal heartbeat. This can be a slow heart beat (bradycardia), a fast heartbeat (tachycardia), or an irregular heartbeat. Some of the most common arrhythmias include atrial fibrillation (when the atria or upper heart chambers contract irregularly), premature ventricular contractions (extra beats that originate from the lower heart chambers, or ventricles), and bradyarrhythmias (slow heart rhythm caused by disease of the heart's conduction system).
  • Heart failure (congestive heart failure, or CHF) occurs when the heart is not able to pump sufficient oxygen-rich blood to meet the needs of the rest of the body. This may be due to lack of force of the heart to pump or as a result of the heart not being able to fill with enough blood. Some people have both problems.
  • Heart valve disease occurs when one or more of the four valves in the heart are not working properly. Heart valves help to ensure that the blood being pumped through the heart keeps flowing forward. Disease of the heart valves (e.g., stenosis, mitral valve prolapse) makes it difficult for the heart to work efficiently.
  • Heart muscle disease (cardiomyopathy) causes the heart to become enlarged or the walls of the heart to become thick. This causes the heart to be less able to pump blood throughout the body and often results in heart failure.
  • Congenital heart disease is a type of birth defect that causes problems with the heart at birth and occurs in about one out of every 100 live births. Some of the most common types of congenital heart disease include:
    • atrial septal defects (ASD) and ventricular septal defects (VSD), which occur when the walls that separate the right and left chambers of the hearts are not completely closed
    • patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), which occurs when the ductus arteriosis doesn't close properly after birth