The Cardiovascular Continuum (VIDEO)

CHAPTER 1

  

The Cardiovascular Continuum (VIDEO)

Voyage into your body to see an amazing creation you're born with: the perfect cardiovascular system. A lifetime of poor health habits can destroy that system and lead to major medical problems and a shortened lifespan, but it doesn't have to be that way. You have the power to keep your body and mind healthy, strong, and alive. See how you can live longer and live better.

The Cardiovascular Continuum
The cardiovascular continuum links various risk factors, like hypertension and high cholesterol levels, with different types of heart disease that become progressively more severe throughout a person's life. By treating risk factors that occur early on in the cardiovascular continuum, like hypertension, it may be possible to prevent or slow the development of heart disease and to prolong life.

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Aneurysms Health Center, Angioplasty Health Center, Arrhythmia Health Center, Cardiovascular Continuum Health Center, Cholesterol and Atherosclerosis Health Center, Coronary Bypass Surgery Health Center, Heart Attack and Angina Health Center, Hypertension Health Center, Stroke Health Center, Thrombosis and Embolism Health Center, Women and Cardiovascular Health Center


Developing Heart
Developing rapidly and early, the embryonic heart is the first organ to function in the embryo, and it takes up most of the room in the fetus's midsection in the first few weeks of its life.

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Marvel of the Cardiovascular System
The cardiovascular system, which consists primarily of the heart and the blood vessels, is the first organ system to develop in humans. It provides oxygen and nutrients to all the organs and tissues of your body.

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Cardiovascular Continuum Health Center


Cardiovascular Disease Begins in Childhood
Obesity in childhood lays the ground for heart and arterial disease. Studies have found that teenagers can develop well-established fatty streaks (the precursors to plaque) in their coronary artery walls, and that even children as young as 10 can have the artery-narrowing plaque that may lead to heart attacks and strokes. Children with high blood cholesterol are likely to remain at risk of elevated blood cholesterol as they grow older.

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Cardiovascular Continuum Health Center, Cholesterol and Atherosclerosis Health Center, Heart Attack and Angina Health Center, Hypertension Health Center, Stroke Health Center


Risk Factors and Cardiovascular Disease
Risk factors increase the likelihood that you'll develop heart disease, and the more risk factors you have, the greater your chances of developing it. Fortunately, most of these risk factors are within your control, like high cholesterol and high blood pressure levels, being overweight, smoking, lack of exercise, overconsumption of alcohol, unmanaged diabetes, and stress. Factors you can't control include genetics and aging.

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Cardiovascular Continuum Health Center, Cholesterol and Atherosclerosis Health Center, Heart Attack and Angina Health Center, Hypertension Health Center


Comorbidities

Atherosclerosis Health Center
Atherosclerosis is thought to be a chronic inflammatory (immune system) response in the walls of the arteries, leading to arterial blockage, ischemia (lack of oxygenated blood), and coronary and peripheral artery disease. The inflammatory response is the body's attempt to "heal" the inner linings of arteries that have been injured. Arteries may be damaged by irritating substances carried in the bloodstream, like alcohol and nicotine, or by hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Free radicals play a major role in this damage. The body attempts to repair chronic injury to the blood vessels with an inflammatory response. Macrophage white blood cells and other inflammatory cells are recruited and accumulate at the site of injury. If the levels of LDL cholesterol and triglyceride blood levels in the blood are high, fats and lipids could build up to create plaque, hard, fatty deposits, in medium-to-large size arteries.

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Cardiovascular Continuum Health Center, Cholesterol and Atherosclerosis Health Center, Hypertension Health Center


Thrombosis and Ischemia Health Center
Blood clots normally form in response to an injury to a blood vessel and they can develop in any part of the cardiovascular system. Blood clots are composed primarily of platelets (cell fragments in the blood that assist in clotting) and fibrin (an insoluble protein fiber formed as part of the clotting process). They may contain red blood cells as well. A thrombus is a blood clot that adheres to the site of its formation, in the lumen (interior) of a blood vessel or in the heart. Most of the time, these clots will dissolve naturally and cause no problems. However, when they don't, thrombosis develops which can partially block blood flow in a large blood vessel or block it completely in a smaller blood vessel. This may result in Ischemia; tissue death resulted from oxygen starvation as the flow of oxygenated blood is cut off. The consequences of a blood clot are most common in the lower extremities, also a cause of strokes and heart attacks.

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Congestive Heart Failure Health Center(Video)
Narrowed blood vessels resulting from hypertension, cholesterol, or heart attack requires the heart pumping harder and causes an enlarged heart and congestive heart failure. Visit a case study of Jody Nix who has an enlarged heart and undergoes defibrillator implant surgery. Jody had signs of full blown Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)

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Stroke
If they don't get the oxygen and glucose they require, your brain cells start to die in minutes. That's exactly what happens when someone has a stroke. Most strokes are ischemic strokes, usually caused by atherosclerosis. Fatty deposits form on the walls of the arteries, which stiffen and become narrower. The narrowed arteries can easily become blocked completely by blood clots, cutting off the brain's vital blood supply. Stroke is the number two leading cause of death worldwide, second only to heart disease.

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Cardiovascular Continuum Health Center, Cholesterol and Atherosclerosis Health Center, Heart Attack and Angina Health Center, Hypertension Health Center, Stroke Health Center


Heart Attack
Over time, LDL cholesterol can build up on the walls of the coronary arteries and form hard plaques, reducing blood supply to the heart. This stiffening and narrowing of the arteries is called atherosclerosis. Sometimes the surface of a plaque ruptures, releasing substances that make platelets stickier and encouraging clots to form on the surface of the plaque. The plaque can block the flow of blood through the already-narrowed artery entirely. Without blood, heart muscle tissue starts to die in what's termed a "myocardial infarction" a heart attack. As preventative measures when blockage discovered on time angioplasty or coronary bypass surgery is done on the patient.

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Angioplasty Health Center, Cardiovascular Continuum Health Center, Cholesterol and Atherosclerosis Health Center, Coronary Bypass Surgery Health Center, Heart Attack and Angina Health Center


Arrhythmias
Heart arrhythmias occur when the electrical impulses that coordinate the heartbeat don't function properly. For example, a scar from a heart attack may cause the electrical impulse to short circuit around it and veer from the normal electrical pathway. Arrhythmias may cause the heart to beat too quickly, too slowly, or irregularly.

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Assessing Blood Flow
Coronary artery disease (CAD)- clogged coronary arteries - can cause angina when blood flow is restricted, or heart attack when flow is severely reduced or completely blocked.

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Cardiovascular Continuum Health Center, Heart Attack and Angina Health Center


Restoring Blood Flow
Surgery may be necessary to restore blood flow for an unhealthy heart. If symptoms of atherosclerosis are severe or if a life-threatening blockage is present, aggressive measures may be taken to open up clogged vessels. In addition to angioplasty and coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery, angioplasty, or endarterectomy may be performed or thrombolytic therapy given.

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Angioplasty Health Center, Cardiovascular Continuum Health Center, Coronary Bypass Surgery Health Center, Heart Attack and Angina Health Center


Prevention: Lose Weight
For many years fat cells were though to be biologically inactive, but it turns out that fat is far from inert. Fat cells secrete numerous chemicals that have been implicated in diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, stroke, and other disorders and diseases, including some forms of cancer. Those with obesity develop enormous fat cells, which are more metabolically active than normal-size fat cells and more likely to churn out harmful substances.

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Live Well
To keep your blood vessels healthy and clear, prevention is the best medicine. Eat a diet low in saturated fats and high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains. If you smoke, quit, and if you don't smoke, don't start. Have regular checkups and keep track of your cholesterol levels and blood pressure readings. Manage chronic conditions, like diabetes, that can damage blood vessels and cause heart disease if uncontrolled. Staying active is key: your body was made to move. Exercise not only reduces your risk of heart disease, it also reduces stress and helps prevent many other diseases, including cancer.

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Lifelong Vitality
For most people, heart disease is the result of unhealthy lifestyle choices. Wiser choices in lifestyle and diet can give you a healthy heart along with more vitality, more self-confidence, and a better quality, longer life.

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