Book : Human Biology
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Posted by: CHELSEA
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Cardiovascular Disease

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Introduction

Cardiovascular disease refers to the class of diseases that involve the heart and/or blood vessels (arteries and veins). While the term technically refers to any disease that affects the cardiovascular system, it is usually used to refer to those related to atherosclerosis (arterial disease). These conditions have similar causes, mechanisms, and treatments. Over 50 million Americans have cardiovascular problems, and most other Western countries face high and increasing rates of cardiovascular disease. It is the number 1 cause of death and disability in the United States and most European countries. By the time that heart problems are detected, the underlying cause (atherosclerosis) is usually quite advanced, having progressed for decades. There is therefore increased emphasis on preventing atherosclerosis by modifying risk factors, such as healthy eating, exercise and avoidance of smoking.

Hypertension

Hypertension or high blood pressure is a medical condition wherein the blood pressure is chronically elevated. Persistent hypertension is one of the risk factors for strokes, heart attacks, heart failure and arterial aneurysm, and is a leading cause of chronic renal failure

Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis is a disease affecting the arterial blood vessel. It is commonly referred to as a "hardening" or "furring" of the arteries. It is caused by the formation of multiple plaques within the arteries. Arteriosclerosis ("hardening of the artery") results from a deposition of tough, rigid collagen inside the vessel wall and around the atheroma. This increases the stiffness, decreases the elasticity of the artery wall. Atherosclerosis typically begins in early adolescence, is usually found in most major arteries, and yet is asymptomatic and not detected by most diagnostic methods during life. It most commonly becomes seriously symptomatic when interfering with the coronary circulation supplying the heart or cerebral circulation supplying the brain, and is considered the most important underlying cause of strokes, heart attacks, various heart diseases including congestive heart failure and most cardiovascular diseases in general.

Plaque

Plaque Atheroma or commonly known as plaque is an abnormal inflammatory accumulation of macrophage white blood cells within the walls of arteries.

Circulatory Shock

Circulatory Shock is a severe condition that results from reduced blood circulation.

Thrombus

A thrombus, or blood clot, is the final product of the blood coagulation step in hemostasis. It is achieved via the aggregation of platelets that form a platelet plug, and the activation of the humoral coagulation system (i.e. clotting factors). A thrombus is physiologic in cases of injury, but pathologic in case of thrombosis.

Embolism

An embolism occurs when an object (the embolus) migrates from one part of the body (through circulation) and causes a blockage (occlusion) of a blood vessel in another part of the body. Blood clots form the most common embolic material by far: other possible embolic materials include fat globules (a fat embolism), air bubbles (an air embolism), septic emboli (containing pus and bacteria), or amniotic fluid.

Stroke

A stroke, also known as cerebrovascular accident (CVA), is an acute neurological injury whereby the blood supply to a part of the brain is interrupted. Strokes can be classified into two major categories: ischemic and hemorrhagic. ~80% of strokes are due to ischemia. The term "brain attack" is starting to come into use in the United States for stroke, just as the term "heart attack" is used for myocardial infarction, where a cutoff of blood causes necrosis to the tissue of the heart. Many hospitals have "brain attack" teams within their neurology departments specifically for swift treatment of stroke.

Heart Attack

Acute myocardial infarction (AMI or MI), commonly known as a heart attack, A heart attack occurs when the supply of blood and oxygen to an area of heart muscle is blocked, usually by a clot in a coronary artery. Often, this blockage leads to arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat or rhythm) that cause a severe decrease in the pumping function of the heart and may bring about sudden death. If the blockage is not treated within a few hours, the affected heart muscle will die and be replaced by scar tissue. It is the leading cause of death for both men and women all over the world.

Congestive Heart Failure

Congestive heart failure (CHF), also called congestive cardiac failure (CCF) or just heart failure, is a condition that can result from any structural or functional cardiac disorder that impairs the ability of the heart to fill with or pump a sufficient amount of blood throughout the body. It is not to be confused with "cessation of heartbeat", which is known as asystole, or with cardiac arrest, which is the cessation of normal cardiac function in the face of heart disease. Because not all patients have volume overload at the time of initial or subsequent evaluation, the term "heart failure" is preferred over the older term "congestive heart failure". Congestive heart failure is often undiagnosed due to a lack of a universally agreed definition and difficulties in diagnosis, particularly when the condition is considered "mild".

Aneurysm

An aneurysm (or aneurism) is a localized dilation or ballooning of a blood vessel by more than 50% of the diameter of the vessel and can lead to instant death at anytime. Aneurysms most commonly occur in arteries at the base of the brain (the circle of Willis) and in the aorta (the main artery coming out of the heart) - this is an aortic aneurysm. This bulge in a blood vessel, much like a bulge on an over-inflated inner tube, can lead to death at anytime. The larger an aneurysm becomes, the more likely it is to burst. Aneurysms are also described according to their shape: Saccular or fusiform. A saccular aneurysm resembles a small sack; a fusiform aneurysm is shaped like a spindle.


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