Rare Diseases Affect 30 Million Americans

My MedlinePlus Weekly Newsletter: Rare Diseases Affect 30 Million Americans

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2020 update to My MedlinePlus Newsletter logo

February 23, 2022

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Rare Diseases Affect 30 Million Americans

A rare disease is one that affects fewer than 200,000 people in the United States. There are nearly 7,000 rare diseases affecting about 30 million Americans. The exact cause for many rare diseases is unknown, however, for many, the problem can be traced to mutations (changes) in a single gene. Genetics are just one piece of the puzzle. Find out more about rare diseases in MedlinePlus.

On February 28, learn more about how NIH supports rare diseases research and the development of diagnostics and treatments at the virtual Rare Disease Day conference. The event is free and open to the public.

Secondhand Smoke

Secondhand smoke is a mixture of the smoke that comes from the burning end of a cigarette, cigar, or pipe, and the smoke breathed out by the smoker. It contains more than 7,000 chemicals. Hundreds of those chemicals are toxic and about 70 can cause cancer.

Health effects of secondhand smoke include:

  • Ear infections in children
  • More frequent and severe asthma attacks in children
  • Heart disease and lung cancer in adults who have never smoked

There is no safe amount of secondhand smoke. Even low levels of it can be harmful. The only way to fully protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke is not to allow smoking indoors.

What is Cardiomyopathy?

Cardiomyopathy refers to diseases of the heart muscle. These diseases have many causes, signs and symptoms, and treatments.

In cardiomyopathy, the heart muscle becomes enlarged, thick, or rigid. In rare cases, the muscle tissue in the heart is replaced with scar tissue.

As cardiomyopathy worsens, the heart becomes weaker. It’s less able to pump blood through the body and maintain a normal electrical rhythm. This can lead to heart failure or irregular heartbeats called arrhythmias. In turn, heart failure can cause fluid to build up in the lungs, ankles, feet, legs, or abdomen.

The types of cardiomyopathy are:

  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy
  • Restrictive cardiomyopathy
  • Arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia
  • Unclassified cardiomyopathy

Cardiomyopathy often runs in families, but may also develop because of another disease or condition. Many times, the cause is unknown.

Learn more about how cardiomyopathy is diagnosed and treated.

Baked Tortilla Chips

Make your own corn tortilla chips at home. Try these baked tortilla chips with your favorite salsa or dip.