Heart Disease Common Cardiovascular

The term “cardiovascular disease” describes all diseases affecting cardiovascular system including the heart, blood circulation and blood vessels.

Cardiovascular System Function

In a healthy cardiovascular system, oxygen-poor blood enters the heart, moves through its first two chambers and leaves the heart for the lungs. The blood moves through the lung tissue, absorbing fresh oxygen. The oxygen-rich blood then flows back to the heart, passes through the remaining two chambers and exits to deliver oxygen to the rest of the body.

Oxygen-rich blood departs from the heart in vessels called arteries (except for the pulmonary artery, which carries oxygen-poor blood to the lungs). As the blood is distributed to the body’s organs and extremities, the artery channels increase in number and become progressively narrower. As the channels approach the size of individual cells, they are called capillaries. It is at the capillary level that nutrients and oxygen pass from the blood to the cells of the body. After the blood is depleted of nutrients, it returns to the heart through progressively larger and fewer vessels known as veins.

When one part of the cardiovascular system breaks down or functions poorly, cardiovascular disease or cardiovascular heart disease may result. In a common complication of cardiovascular disease, organs or muscles can’t receive adequate blood flow and may become damaged by oxygen starvation. This includes the heart muscle itself, which needs blood like any other organ.

A blockage of blood delivery to the heart muscle–or coronary artery disease–may occur when the arteries supplying the tissue become obstructed by a waxy build-up. This condition, called atherosclerosis, is a leading form of cardiovascular heart disease.

Peripheral Artery Disease

Peripheral artery disease (PAD), another common cardiovascular disease, is a narrowing of the peripheral arteries in the arms or legs. PAD symptoms include cramping, pain and weakness in the legs when walking or climbing stairs.

Once PAD is diagnosed, it can usually be treated with medication and lifestyle changes. Untreated, this condition may lead to total loss of circulation in the limb and eventual gangrene.

Thrombosis

Thrombosis is another form of cardiovascular disease in which blood vessels become obstructed by blood clots. If the condition is diagnosed in time, prescription medication may remove the clots, reducing the cardiovascular disease risk.

Cardiovascular Disease Causes and Treatments

Cardiovascular disease and cardiovascular heart disease present in many fashions, and their causes can vary widely depending on the nature of the disorder. Cardiovascular disease risk can be elevated by anything that harms cardiovascular system or impedes circulation, including:

  • Chronic high blood pressure
  • Heredity
  • Long-term high cholesterol levels
  • Prolonged inactivity
  • Smoking.

If you fall into a high cardiovascular disease risk category and you experience symptoms such as leg cramping, shortness of breath or chest pain, talk to your doctor. He can prescribe a treatment plan and offer advice on how to maintain your cardiovascular system.

Resources

American Heart Association. (2010). About peripheral artery disease (PAD). Retrieved October 28, 2010, from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/PeripheralArteryDisease/About-Peripheral-Artery-Disease-PAD_UCM_301301_Article.jsp

Centers For Disease Control. (2010). Heart disease home/risk factors/signs and symptoms. Retrieved October 29, 2010, from http://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/about.htm

Mayo Clinic. (2010). Heart disease basics. Retrieved October 29, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/heart-disease/DS01120

Mayo Clinic. (2010). Peripheral artery disease basics. Retrieved October 29, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/peripheral-arterial-disease/DS00537

Medline Plus. (2010). Deep venous thrombosis. Retrieved October 28, 2010, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000156.htm

National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. (2010). Deep vein thrombosis. Retrieved October 29, 2010, from http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/Dvt/DVT_WhatIs.html