What is Active Heart Disease?

Recently one of our Readers of the article “Shilajit Benefits; What are They?” asked about what is meant by Active Heart Disease.

Understandably, the term may sound a little strange at first. Surely the only type of heart disease is active, right? Because the flip side would be inactive heart disease, and that makes little sense.

How can heart disease possibly be ‘inactive’? Let’s take a closer look at a few aspects of heart disease to demystify this a little more.

Basic Heart Functionality

Your cardiac action potentials are made up of a sequence or phases. These are the beats that your heart makes, think of them in a visual form like a line showing up on a heart rate monitor. These beats are made up of peaks and troughs.

Understood as the relationship between electrochemical gradients, ions and cells, these can be considered the mechanics behind heart function. Moving through ion permeation and gating, a key part of the magic of what keeps our hearts beating happens here. 1

When the process is unable to continue as it naturally would, the heart experiences extreme stresses, the consequences of which can be devastating.

On the topic of stress, a better understanding of the impacts of stress on the heart is seeing changes encouraged in areas of mindset and emotional management. Holistically, our bodies are not made up of singular components that operate completely independently.

The impact of your thoughts on your physical health is becoming a better-understood element of health in Western society. 2

A couple of key things you should be aware of is that both chambers of the heart must pump a certain amount of blood through the arteries every time the heart beats to maintain health.

The heart’s plasticity is responsible for this because the cardiac muscles need to constantly adapt to the movements of the heart during each beat. 3

This is made up of muscular valves and the sinus rhythm. The blood flow has to be high enough that the blood pumped out by the heart can reach the extremities of the body through the arteries and veins without clotting (thrombus). 4 5

Active Heart Disease

Active heart disease is defined by John Wyckoff, M.D. as when the patient is suffering from an infectious type of heart disease that interferes with the effective operation of the heart. 6

Examples of this may include diseases such as: 7

  • rheumatic heart disease
  • coronary heart and/or artery disease
  • diseases of the:
    • aorta and the pulmonary vessels
    • tissues of the heart, and
    • heart valves

Types of acquired diseases that have an impact on the heart (and other vital parts of the body) include: 8 9 10 11

  • Syphilis (mainly in the Tertiary syphilis stage)
  • Parvovirus B19
  • Rheumatic heart disease
  • Herpes
  • Influenza
  • Exposure to bacteria and organisms including:
    • Staphylococcus Aureus
    • Streptococcus, and
    • Mycobacterium tuberculosis
  • Exposure to fungi includes:
    • Candida, and
    • Aspergillus
  • Coxsackievirus, and
  • Parasites such as Trypanosoma cruzi which causes Chagas Disease

Exposure to other things such as poisons and toxins has also been attributed to toxic heart diseases. They can include: 12 13

  • Many illicit substances (e.g. cocaine, ecstasy)
  • A veritable laundry list of prescription medications including ADHD, blood pressure, erectile dysfunction, and HIV medication (ask your Doctor)
  • Chemotherapy treatment (leading to cardiomyopathy)
  • Radiation from cancer treatment and computerised tomography (CT) scans
  • Exposure to lead and mercury
  • The consumption of tobacco and alcohol

However, other schools of thought reason that active heart disease is where it is of a severity that you are at increased risk of heart failure and heart attack.

Inactive Heart Disease

Wyckoff then goes on to detail that inactive heart disease is characterised by the post-infection event where the healing process has resulted in scar tissue forming where there was previously unscarred, healthy tissue.

This then impacts the ability of the heart to function in an optimal state.

When the heart is impacted by an active or inactive heart disease, patients may experience symptoms such as:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea, or
  • Sweating.

A patient may also be given medication such as beta-blockers to reduce the intensity of symptoms.

You may also wish to consider reading Congenital Heart Disease; 6 Healthy Heart Tips.

Please note that this article by no means is to be taken as medical advice. It has been provided for educational purposes only and in no way seeks to provide medical advice of any form. If you have a heart condition you need to see a trusted and qualified specialist for tailored medical advice.


  1. “Cardiac Ion Channels” A. O. Grant, 1 April 2009 [AHA Journals] [Archive] ↩︎
  2. “Stress and your heart” – Harvard Health Publishing, 1 December 2013 [Harvard Medical School] [Archive] ↩︎
  3. “Heart Plasticity in Response to Pressure- and Volume-Overload: A Review of Findings in Compensated and Decompensated Phenotypes” – F. G. Pitoulis, C. M. Terracciano, 13 February 2013 [PubMed] [Archive] ↩︎
  4. “Normal Heart Rhythm” – R. E. Klabunde, 6 April 2007 [Cardiovascular Physiology Concepts] [Archive] ↩︎
  5. “What is thrombosis?” – Johns Hopkins Medicine [Johns Hopkins Medicine] [Archive] ↩︎
  6. “Heart Disease: Points Every Nurse Should Know about It” – J. Wyckoff, The American Journal of Nursing, April 1924 [JSTOR] [Archive] ↩︎
  7. “Acquired heart disease” – Encyclopedia Britannica, 30 September 2021 [Britannica] [Archive] ↩︎
  8. “Syphilis” – Mayo Clinic Staff, 25 September 2021 [Mayo Clinic] [Archive] ↩︎
  9. “What is Rheumatic Heart Disease?” – S. Noonan, 23 December 2015 [RDH Australia] [Archive] ↩︎
  10. “Heart Inflammation” – National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 16 April 2021 [NHLBI] [Archive] ↩︎
  11. “Chagas disease” – National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, 21 March 2018 [NIH] [Archive] ↩︎
  12. “9 Hidden Heart Toxins and How to Avoid Them” – J. J. Brown, 30 September 2014 [Everyday Health] [Archive] ↩︎
  13. “About Cardiomyopathy Caused by Chemotherapy” – Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, 8 March 2019 [MSK] [Archive] ↩︎

Last Updated on 4 months by D&C Editorial Team


About the Author

Matthew has been on an active journey towards living a healthy life from a young age. Influenced by his Grandmother, a practicing Naturopath who served her community from the 1940's to the 1980's, his views on living holistically were shaped from a young age. Growing up in different parts of Australia, his connection with the Ocean and a passion for sustainability comes through in everything he does and shares.

"I'm not a Doctor, and I don't play one on the Internet." - me

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