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WHO CARES: Chronic Illness in America
WHO CARES: Chronic Illness in America

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Heart Disease

Description: Most heart defects either obstruct blood flow in the heart or vessels near it or cause blood to flow through the heart in an abnormal pattern. A rare defect known as hypoplastic heart occurs when the right or left side of the heart is incompletely formed.

Symptoms: Uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing or pain in the center of the chest lasting more than a few minute; pain spreading to the shoulders, neck or arms; lightheadedness, fainting, sweating, nausea or shortness of breath; dizziness, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing; palpitations, cold sweat or paleness.

Number of Americans diagnosed: About 61 million Americans have one or more types of cardiovascular disease.

Long-term problems/treatments: Heart failure occurs when the heart can't pump enough blood to meet circulation needs. In congestive heart failure (CHF), fluid collects in the lungs, legs, and elsewhere, often causing shortness of breath and/or ankle or leg swelling. CHF may occur abruptly, following a heart attack, or may develop slowly because of other causes. There are a number of effective treatments for CHF.
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Resources

American Heart Association National Center

Heart to Heart Volunteers

National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute


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