- Current section: Introduction
- Learning outcomes
- 1 What are cardiovascular diseases?
- 1.1 A simple introduction
- 1.2 Broad defintions of cardiovascular diseases
- 1.3 There's a lot of it about: the global picture of cardiovascular diseases
- 1.4 Decline of cardiovascular diseases in Western society?
- 1.5 Economic impact of cardiovascular diseases
- 2 Studying cardiovascular diseases
- 3 Risk factors
- 4 Prevention is better than cure
- 5 Early warning signs
- 6 When things go wrong
- 7 Immediate treatment of cardiovascular diseases
- 8 Long-term treatment, and living with cardiovascular diseases
- 9 Summary
- 10 Test your knowledge
- 11 Additional resources
- 12 Glossary
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Understanding cardiovascular diseases
Your heart beats around 100,000 times every day and, in that time,...
Your heart beats around 100,000 times every day and, in that time, pumps about 23,000 litres of blood around your body. But what happens when it doesn’t work as well as it should? This unit explains what happens in cardiovascular disease, when the heart’s performance is affected, how the normal function of blood vessels is impaired, and what treatments are available. Whether you are a patient, relative, friend or healthcare professional, you will find the unit interesting.
By the end of this unit you should be able to:
- describe, in general terms, the different types of cardiovascular diseases, making clear the difference between the terms cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) and coronary heart disease (CHD);
- identify different areas of the body likely to be affected by cardiovascular diseases;
- locate information on the internet, and understand and interpret data on disease occurrence;
- recognise the importance of historical and geographical factors in the changing profile of cardiovascular disease incidence worldwide;
- identify and list a number of risk factors that contribute to the development of cardiovascular diseases.
Understanding cardiovascular diseases
You may be studying this unit because you – or a member of your family or a friend – have been personally affected by cardiovascular diseases in some way. You may be professionally involved in looking after people with one of these diseases. Perhaps you are interested in health issues in general. Whatever your motivation or underlying reasons for studying this unit, you will gain valuable insights into the extent of cardiovascular diseases and their treatment in the early twenty-first century. What you learn about avoiding or delaying cardiovascular diseases may also be incorporated into your own lifestyle for a healthier future for you and your family.
This unit provides an introductory overview of some of the diseases of the heart and circulation (the cardiovascular system) and their medical management. This should help you get used to medical terminology and provide an introduction to the anatomy and physiology of the cardiovascular system.
This unit is an adapted extract from the course
Copyright & revisions
- Creative-Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence. However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements section.
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