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Cardiovascular System
The Cardiovascular System

Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease is a disease of the heart and blood vessels; also known as heart disease. This can lead to problems related to atherosclerosis which is a condition when plaque builds up on the walls of the arteries. This buildup narrows the arteries, making it harder for blood to flow through. If a blood clot forms, it can stop the flow of blood. This can cause a heart attack or stroke.

Types of Cardiovascular Disease

Arrhythmia – This is an abnormal rhythm of the heart. There are a number of different types of arrhythmia. The heart can beat too slowly, too fast, or irregularly. An arrhythmia can affect how well the heart works and it may not be able to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs.

Heart Attack – A heart attack occurs when blood flow to the heart is blocked by a blood clot. If this clot cuts off the blood flow completely, the part of the heart muscle supplied by that artery begins to die. Most people survive their first heart attack and return to their normal lives to enjoy many more years of productive activity. But having a heart attack does mean you have to make some changes. The doctor will advise you of medications and lifestyle changes according to how badly the heart was damaged and what degree of heart disease caused the heart attack.

Heart Failure – Though you may think this means the heart stops beating, that’s not the case. During heart failure, also known as congestive heart failure, the heart keeps working, but the heart isn’t pumping blood as well as it should and reduces the supply of blood and oxygen to the body.

Stroke – There are three basic types of strokes. The most common type is an ischemic stroke. This happens when a blood vessel that feeds the brain gets blocked, usually from a blood clot. When the blood supply to a part of the brain is shut off, the brain cells will die. The result will be an inability to carry out some of the previous functions as before, like walking or talking. 87% of strokes are an ischemic stroke.

A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel within the brain bursts. The most likely cause is uncontrolled hypertension.

The third type is TIA (transient ischemic attack) is caused by a temporary clot. These are often called “mini strokes”, these warning strokes should be taken very seriously.

Sometimes the effects of stroke are permanent if too many brain cells die after a stroke due to lack of blood and oxygen to the brain. These cells are never replaced. The good news is that some brain cells don’t die – they are only temporarily out of order. Injured cells can repair themselves and over time some body functions can improve. Sometimes, other brain cells may take control of those areas that were injured.

Heart Valve Problems – When heart valves don’t open enough to allow the blood to flow through as it should, it’s called stenosis. When the heart valves don’t close properly and allow blood to leak through, it’s called regurgitation. When the valve leaflets bulge or prolapse back into the upper chamber, it’s condition called mitral valve prolapse. When that happens they may not close properly. This allows blood to flow backward through them.

The good news is that we can treat many of these conditions which can help prevent stroke and heart attack and fix your arrhythmia.

A similar buildup of plaque in the peripheral arteries can lead to peripheral artery disease. Click here to read more.