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Cardiovascular Diseases

Anatomy and Function of the Coronary Arteries
Anatomy and Function of the Coronary Arteries Click image to enlarge Coronary arteries supply blood to the heart muscle. Like all other tissues in the body, the heart muscle needs oxygen-rich blood to function. Also, oxygen-depleted blood must be carried away. The coronary arteries wrap around the outside of the heart. Small branches dive into the heart muscle to bring it blood. What are the different coronary arteries? The 2 main coronary arteries are the left main and right coronary arteries. Left mai...
Anatomy and Function of the Heart Valves
Anatomy and Function of the Heart Valves Click Image to Enlarge What are heart valves? The heart consists of four chambers, two atria (upper chambers) and two ventricles (lower chambers). There is a valve through which blood passes before leaving each chamber of the heart. The valves prevent the backward flow of blood. These valves are actual flaps that are located on each end of the two ventricles (lower chambers of the heart). They act as one-way inlets of blood on one side of a ventricle and one-way ...
Anatomy and Function of the Heart Valves
Anatomy and Function of the Heart Valves What are heart valves? The heart consists of 4 chambers, 2 atria (upper chambers) and 2 ventricles (lower chambers). Blood passes through a valve before leaving each chamber of the heart. The valves prevent the backward flow of blood. Valves are actually flaps (leaflets) that act as one-way inlets for blood coming into a ventricle and one-way outlets for blood leaving a ventricle. Normal valves have 3 flaps (leaflets), except the mitral valve, which only has 2 fl...
Anatomy and Function of the Heart's Electrical System
Anatomy and Function of the Heart's Electrical System Click image to enlarge The heart's electrical system In the simplest terms, the heart is a pump made up of muscle tissue. Like all muscle, the heart needs a source of energy and oxygen to function. The heart's pumping action is regulated by an electrical conduction system that coordinates the contraction of the various chambers of the heart. How does the heart beat? An electrical stimulus is generated by the sinus node (also called the sinoatrial nod...
Atherosclerosis
Atherosclerosis What is atherosclerosis? Atherosclerosis thickening or hardening of the arteries. It is caused by a buildup of plaque in the inner lining of an artery. Click to expand Plaque is made up of deposits of fatty substances, cholesterol, cellular waste products, calcium, and fibrin. As it builds up in the arteries, the artery walls become thickened and stiff. Atherosclerosis is a slow, progressive disease that may start as early as childhood. However, it can progress rapidly. What causes ather...
Basic Anatomy of the Heart
Basic Anatomy of the Heart Click image to enlarge About the heart The heart is the hardest working muscle in the human body. Located almost in the center of the chest, the adult human heart is about the size of a fist. At an average rate of 80 times a minute, the heart beats about 115,000 times in one day, or about 42 million times in a year. In a 70-year lifetime, an average human heart will beat more than 2.5 billion times. Even when a person is at rest, the heart continuously works hard. The average ...
Calculating Calories and Fat Grams
Calculating Calories and Fat Grams To determine the number of calories and fat grams you need each day in order to either lose, maintain or gain weight, your health care provider or a registered dietitian. As a general guideline, to maintain your current weight, follow the 3-step formula below. Remember, everyone's body and metabolism are different, so these numbers could vary slightly for you. 1. Determine your estimated calorie needs in the chart below: Physical Activity Level Gender Age (years) Inact...
Cardiac Diagnostic Tests
Cardiac Diagnostic Tests New tests are constantly being developed to further the understanding of disease, injury, and congenital (present at birth) or acquired abnormalities of the heart. These are just a few of the tests that have been used to diagnose heart and blood vessel disease (cardiovascular). For more information, talk to your cardiologist or other healthcare provider: Electrocardiogram (ECG). This test records the electrical activity of the heart, shows abnormal rhythms (arrhythmias), and can...
Cardiac Procedures
Cardiac Procedures These procedures are used to evaluate and treat heart and blood vessel disease (cardiovascular disease or coronary artery disease). Talk to your doctor or heart care professional for more specific information. Procedures for abnormal heart rhythms Catheter ablation. This procedure uses radio waves or freezing to silence an abnormal area in the heart's electrical system, which is usually found during an electrophysiology study. This procedure can break a problematic electrical circuit ...
Cardiovascular Disease Statistics
Cardiovascular Disease Statistics Each year, heart disease is at the top of the list of the country's most serious health problems. In fact, statistics show that cardiovascular disease is America's leading health problem, and the leading cause of death. Consider the most recent statistics released by the American Heart Association: Approximately 84 million people in this country suffer from some form of cardiovascular disease, causing about 2,200 deaths a day, averaging one death every 40 seconds. Almos...
Chronic Venous Insufficiency
Chronic Venous Insufficiency What is chronic venous insufficiency? Click Image to Enlarge Chronic venous insufficiency occurs when your leg veins don’t allow blood to flow back up to your heart. Normally, the valves in your veins make sure that blood flows toward your heart. But when these valves don’t work well, blood can also flow backwards. This can cause blood to collect (pool) in your legs. If this condition is not treated, you may have: Pain Swelling Cramps Skin changes Varicose veins Leg ulcers C...
Chronic Venous Insufficiency
Chronic Venous Insufficiency What is chronic venous insufficiency? Click Image to Enlarge Chronic venous insufficiency occurs when your leg veins don’t allow blood to flow back up to your heart. Normally, the valves in your veins make sure that blood flows toward your heart. But when these valves don’t work well, blood can also flow backwards. This can cause blood to collect (pool) in your legs. If this condition is not treated, you may have: Pain Swelling Cramps Skin changes Varicose veins Leg ulcers C...
Congenital Heart Defects
Congenital Heart Defects What is a congenital heart defect? When the heart or blood vessels near the heart do not develop normally before birth, a condition called congenital heart defect occurs (congenital means "existing at birth"). Congenital heart defects occur in close to 1% of infants. Most young people with congenital heart defects are living into adulthood now. In most cases, the cause is unknown. Sometimes a viral infection in the mother causes the condition. The condition can be genetic (hered...
Coronary Heart Disease
Coronary Heart Disease What are the coronary arteries? Coronary arteries supply blood to the heart muscle. Like all other tissues in the body, the heart muscle needs oxygen-rich blood to function, and oxygen-depleted blood must be carried away. The coronary arteries run along the outside of the heart and have small branches that supply blood to the heart muscle. What are the different coronary arteries? Click image to enlarge The 2 main coronary arteries are the left main and right coronary arteries. Le...
Coronary Heart Disease
Coronary Heart Disease What are the coronary arteries? Coronary arteries supply blood to the heart muscle. Like all other tissues in the body, the heart muscle needs oxygen-rich blood to function, and oxygen-depleted blood must be carried away. The coronary arteries run along the outside of the heart and have small branches that supply blood to the heart muscle. What are the different coronary arteries? Click image to enlarge The 2 main coronary arteries are the left main and right coronary arteries. Le...
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) Click Image to Enlarge The term venous thromboembolism (VTE) is used to describe two conditions, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE) . This term is used because the two conditions are very closely related. And, because their prevention and treatment are also closely related. Deep vein thrombosis is a blood clot or thrombus in a deep vein. They are most common in the leg. But they may develop in the arm or other part of the body. Part of the clot, called an e...
Determining Your Body Mass Index
Determining Your Body Mass Index (BMI) What is body mass index? Determining how much you should weigh is not a simple matter of looking at a height-weight chart, but includes considering the amount of bone, muscle, and fat in your body's composition. The amount of fat is the critical measurement. A good indicator of how much fat you carry is the Body Mass Index (BMI). Although it is not a perfect measure, it gives a fairly accurate assessment of how much of your body is composed of fat. Calculate your B...
Diet to Help Prevent Heart Disease
Diet to Help Prevent Heart Disease You probably know that a healthy diet is important. Eating right can help prevent a number of problems such as high cholesterol and heart disease. But knowing exactly what a healthy diet looks like can be a challenge. The USDA and the U.S. Department of Health teamed up to create an easy way to build a healthy diet for yourself. It’s called MyPlate. It uses a simple graphic to help you make healthy food choices to lower your risk for heart disease, as well as cancer, d...
Effects of Stroke
Effects of Stroke What are the effects of stroke? The effects of stroke vary from person to person based on the type, severity, location, and number of strokes. The brain is very complex. Each area of the brain is responsible for a special function or ability. When an area of the brain is damaged from a stroke, the loss of normal function of part of the body may occur. This may result in a disability. The brain is divided into 3 main areas: Cerebrum (consisting of the right and left sides or hemispheres...
Heart Valve Diseases
Heart Valve Diseases What are heart valves? The heart consists of 4 chambers--2 atria (upper chambers) and 2 ventricles (lower chambers). Blood passes through a valve as it leaves each chamber of the heart. The valves prevent the backward flow of blood. They act as one-way inlets of blood on one side of a ventricle and one-way outlets of blood on the other side of a ventricle. The 4 heart valves include the following: Click image to enlarge Tricuspid valve. Located between the right atrium and the right...
High Blood Pressure/Hypertension
High Blood Pressure/Hypertension What is blood pressure? Blood pressure is the force of the blood pushing against the artery walls. The force is generated with each heartbeat as blood is pumped from the heart into the blood vessels. The size and elasticity of the artery walls also affect blood pressure. Each time the heart beats (contracts and relaxes), pressure is created inside the arteries. The pressure is greatest when blood is pumped out of the heart into the arteries. When the heart relaxes betwee...
History of Stroke
History of Stroke Hippocrates, the father of medicine, first recognized stroke over 2,400 years ago. At this time stroke was called apoplexy, which means "struck down by violence" in Greek. This was due to the fact that a person developed sudden paralysis and change in well-being. Doctors had little knowledge of the anatomy and function of the brain, the cause of stroke, or how to treat it. It was not until the mid-1600s that Jacob Wepfer found that patients who died with apoplexy had bleeding in the br...
Maintaining Weight Loss
Maintaining Weight Loss Benefits of maintaining weight loss While losing weight is difficult for many people, it is even more challenging to keep the weight off. Most people who lose a large amount of weight have regained it 2 to 3 years later. One theory about regaining lost weight is that people who decrease the amount of calories they consume to lose weight experience a drop in the rate their bodies burn calories. This makes it increasingly difficult to lose weight over a period of months. A lower ra...
Medical Treatment for Obesity
Medical Treatment for Obesity Medical treatment overview You may need to see your healthcare provider for help in losing weight if your own efforts have failed or if you have other medical conditions that make it crucial for you to lose weight. You may need to take prescription medicine if you have obesity-related health problems. Many people take over-the-counter or alternative medicine supplements in an attempt to lose weight. But to keep the weight off for the long term, you'll need to change your un...
Obesity Treatment Overview
Obesity Treatment Overview Treatment goals Regardless of the type or combination of obesity treatment, goal setting is an important part of any obesity treatment plan. While a person may want to lose a large amount of weight because of societal or fashion reasons, it is important to realize that setting and achieving a realistic goal of reducing weight by as little as 3% to 5% of body weight will yield important, positive gains in health. Treatment goals work best if they are tailored to a person's need...
Online Resources - Cardiovascular Diseases
Online Resources - Cardiovascular Diseases This Web was compiled from a variety of sources including the online resources listed below, but is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your health care provider. The content provided here is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your health care provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition. This pa...
Overview of Obesity
Overview of Obesity Facts about obesity Overweight and obesity together make up one of the leading preventable causes of death in the U.S. Obesity is a chronic disease that can seriously affect your health. Overweight means that you have extra body weight, and obesity means having a high amount of extra body fat. Being overweight or obese raises your risk for health problems. These include coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and certain ty...
Overview of Stroke
Overview of Stroke Click Image to Enlarge What is stroke? Stroke, also called brain attack, occurs when blood flow to the brain is disrupted. Disruption in blood flow is caused when either a blood clot or piece of plaque blocks one of the vital blood vessels in the brain (ischemic stroke), or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts, spilling blood into surrounding tissues (hemorrhagic stroke). The brain needs a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients in order to function. Even a brief interruption in bl...
Preventing Obesity in Children, Teens, and Adults
Preventing Obesity in Children, Teens, and Adults Facts about prevention Obesity is a chronic disease affecting increasing numbers of children, teens and adults. Obesity rates among children in the U.S. have doubled since 1980 and have tripled for adolescents. About 17% of children aged 2 to 19 are considered obese, compared to over 35% of adults who are considered obese. Earlier onset of type 2 diabetes, heart and blood vessel disease, and obesity-related depression and social isolation in children and...
Smoking and Cardiovascular Disease
Smoking and Heart Disease The American Heart Association (AHA) says diseases caused by smoking kill more than 440,000 people in the U.S. each year. Most new smokers are children and teens. Smokers have higher risk for lung disease. This includes lung cancer and emphysema. They also have increased risk for heart disease and stroke. Facts about smoking and heart disease One out of every 5 smoking-related deaths is caused by heart disease. Women older than 35 who smoke and take birth control pills are at m...
Statistics of Stroke
Statistics of Stroke More about stroke or brain attack The American Stroke Association (ASA), a division of the American Heart Association, reports the following statistics regarding strokes: Stroke is the fifth largest cause of death, ranking behind diseases of the heart, all forms of cancer, and lower respiratory disease. Almost every 40 seconds in the United States, someone has a stroke. Over 4 million U.S. adults live today with the effects of a stroke. ASA estimates strokes cost the U.S. $73.7 bill...
Varicose Veins
Varicose Veins What are varicose veins? Varicose veins are enlarged, twisted veins. Varicose veins can happen anywhere in the body, but are more common in the legs. Varicose veins are not considered a serious medical condition. But, they can be uncomfortable and can lead to more serious problems. And, because they may be very noticeable, they may cause people to feel uncomfortable or embarrassed. What are spider veins? Spider veins, a milder type of varicose veins, are smaller than varicose veins and of...
Varicose Veins
Varicose Veins What are varicose veins? Varicose veins are enlarged, twisted veins. Varicose veins can happen anywhere in the body, but are more common in the legs. Varicose veins are not considered a serious medical condition. But, they can be uncomfortable and can lead to more serious problems. And, because they may be very noticeable, they may cause people to feel uncomfortable or embarrassed. What are spider veins? Spider veins, a milder type of varicose veins, are smaller than varicose veins and of...
Vascular Conditions and Diseases
Vascular Conditions and Diseases There are many vascular conditions that require clinical care by a physician or other health care professional. Listed in the directory below are some of these conditions, for which we have provided a brief overview. Overview of the Vascular System Medical Management of Vascular Conditions Aneurysm Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Cerebral Aneurysm Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm Carotid Artery Disease Chronic Venous Insufficiency Claudication Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) / Thrombophleb...