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The Cardiovascular System & Coronary Heart Disease

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The Cardiovascular System & Coronary Heart Disease December 2007 Joanna Matthews-Bashford 07097688 Health Studies, Anatomy & Physiology, HEA1183 Abstract The cardiovascular system consists of the blood, the heart, the circulation systems. The blood feeds the body with the nutrients it needs and fight infections and removes waste products. The heart pumps the blood around the body and through the lungs where oxygen is replaced with carbon dioxide. The heart has its own conductive system which makes it contract automatically. Malfunction of the heart and its vessels is called coronary heart disease. This is the hardening or narrowing of the arteries. This causes pain called angina and can cause a cardiac arrest. The main cause is a build up of a fatty substance called atheroma. Bad diet, smoking, stress and being overweight are some of the main contributors to coronary heart disease. Prevention of coronary heart disease is mainly to adjust lifestyle and eat healthily. Table of Contents 1. Introduction 2. The Blood 2.1 Composition of blood 3. The heart 3.1 External Structure of the heart 3.2 Internal structure of the heart 3.3 Blood flow through the heart 4. ...read more.


The left ventricle pushes the blood up through the aortic valve along the aorta which splits into the descending and ascending aorta and then the blood is taken around the body. (Figure 1. The normal heart) Fig 1 (UAB Health Systems /2007) 4. The Blood vessels The heart pumps blood around the body via various blood vessels. Arteries and arterioles are blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart. There are many different sizes but they are all made up of 3 layers of tissue, the tunica intima inside layer, the tunica media and the tunica adventitia the outside layer. The inside of the vessel is called the lumen. Artery walls are thick because they need to be strong for the high pressure of arterial blood. Veins and venules return blood to the heart at a lower pressure. They have the same 3 layers as arteries and arterioles but the walls are thinner because there is less muscle and elastic tissue. Some veins have valves which prevent the back flow of blood. These are found mainly in the lower limbs of the body. (Waugh & Grant, 2001:78-79) ...read more.


Statins are medicines that lower the cholesterol in the body. They prevent atheroma from forming or increasing in the blood vessels. Beta blockers prevent angina while reducing high blood pressure. The effects of stress are reduced and the flow of blood through the heart is improved. (NHS Direct, undated: 9) There are many different types of prescribed medicines that can improve heart health but sometime surgery is needed. Angioplasty can be used to open up a blocked artery. In simple terms a mesh like tube is inserted into the artery and inflated by a small balloon. If this cant be done then a coronary bypass can be performed so that blood is diverted and bypass the restricted artery. In severe cases a heart transplant may be performed. (NHS Direct, undated: 11) The best thing is prevention, and the best way to prevent heart disease is to limit the amount of bad cholesterol in the diet, and eat a healthy diet which is low in saturated fat, sugar and salt. Exercise increases the amount of good cholesterol and obviously can prevent obesity. Smoking encourages the hardening of the arteries and is the main cause of coronary thrombosis in people under the age of 50. 8. ...read more.

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