Cardiovascular Conditions and Diseases

Cardiovascular problems stem from failure of the heart pump, obstructed or regurgitant flow, problems with electrical conduction, or disruption of vascular integrity.



  • ischemic
  • hypertension

  • arrhythmias
    & arrest
  • heart failure &
  • valvular
  • congenital
  • peripheral
  • other

Ischemic heart diseases

Atherosclerosis and ischemic heart disease

Ischemic heart diseases result from inadequate oxygenation of myocardial tissue.

Heart Failure and Cardiomyopathies

Valvular heart diseases

Valvular heart diseases are either stenosis or regurgitation back across the valve.

congenital heart diseases

Congenital heart diseases can range from asymptomatic to life-threatening

Congenital heart disease is the most common problem in development, occurring in 8 in 1,000 live births, or close to 1:100. If a child has a heart problem at birth, future siblings have a chance of 3-5%.

Some problems can have minimal consequences, while others can be severe and require immediate medical attention.


Genetic mutations, environmental factors, maternal illness, or toxins can lead to cardiac malformations. However, in most cases, the cause is unknown.


Signs and Symptoms

Congenital heart problems generally do not cause substantial problems during pregnancy, as blood can shunt through the foramen ovale and the ductus arteriosus. It is usally only after birth, when the baby cannot depend on maternal oxygenation of the blood anymore, that symptoms arise.


Problems can be categorized as cyanotic or acyanotic.

Acyanotic problems include intracardiac and vascular stenosis, valve regurgitation, and problems resulting in left-to-right shunts.

Large left-to-right shunts cause pulmonary artery volume and pressure to increase, leading to pulmonary arteriolar hypertrophy and increased resistance to flow. Over time, this resistance can increase right heart pressure, resulting in a right-to-left shunt. This delayed development of hypoxemia and cyanosis is called Eisenmenger syndrome.

Increased pulmonary vascular resistance and heart dysfunction (ie a big VSD) can cause heart failure


Signs and Symptoms in Infants and Children

  • failure to thrive
  • cyanosis, especially during feeding, crying, or exertion, in some conditions
  • increased rate of breathing or trouble breathing
    • due to fluid buildup
  • hepatomegaly, likely due to hyperinflation
  • decreased energy or lethargy (ie more sleepiness)

NO pitting edema or orthopnea



Some problems are apparent at birth, while others are picked up weeks, months, or years later.

  • blue neonate: transposition of great vessels
  • blue baby: tetrology of Fallot
  • 1-4 weeks:
  • older children: aortic stenosis, coarctation, myocardial obstruction

other cardiovascular conditions and diseases