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Cardiovascular Diseases - Research Paper Example

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Cardiovascular diseases are a collection of diseases affecting the circulatory system which include the heart and the blood vessels – arteries and veins. These diseases may be present at birth (congenital) or may arise in early or adult life. …
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Cardiovascular Diseases
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Though infectious diseases are still a menace in many parts of the world, in the recent times cardiovascular disease have also risen to the rank of the biggest global killer (Lopez et al., 2006; Dahme et al., 2009). There are a range of cardiovascular diseases affecting the heart and the circulatory system. These diseases may be grouped depending on the organ affected; heart or the blood vessels. Angina pectoris characterized by chest pains due to insufficient supply of oxygen rich blood to the heart. Often this disease is linked to atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease. In the event that the heart’s electrical signals are affected there are irregular heartbeats in conditions called arrhythmias which include atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter and premature atrial complex among others. Risk factors for these diseases are diverse ranging from diabetes mellitus to lifestyle-related factors. When cardiovascular disease affects the cardiac function, it is often referred as cardiomyopathy upon which the contractile aspects of the heart are compromised. There are two forms of cardiac myopathies, dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). HCM is the hypertrophy of the myocardium without association with diseases which cause myocardial hypertrophy. DCM is defined by a reduction in the cardiac pump function which ultimately progresses to congestive heart failure. Structural defects in heart development diagnosed at birth are collectively referred as congenital heart disease. These include ventricular septal defect, patent ductus arteriosus, pulmonic stenosis among other conditions. The heart valves may also be diseased such as in mistral stenosis, mitral valve regurgitation, mitral valve proplapse and in tricuspid stenosis. The pathological progression (atherosclerosis – chronic degenerative disease of blood vessels) of cardiovascular disease usually commences early in life and it undergoes a long asymptomatic period which is evident in middle or elderly men and women (Berenson et al., 1989). Major risk factors influencing this progression include physical inactivity, unhealthy diet and tobacco consumption as well in diseases; diabetes, dyslipidemia and hypertension. Atherosclerosis is characterized by lipid deposition in the intima, smooth muscles and proliferation of the matrix resulting to a fibrous plaque. Calcification and increased fragility associated with atherosclerosis leads to the rapture of the fibrous plaque exposing thrombogenic material to platelets in circulation. These platelets mediate thrombosis at the site of vessel rupture resulting into vessel occlusion and necrosis. Obstruction of blood vessels following the formation of unstable atherosclerotic plaques on the blood vessel walls are among the features of progression of atherosclerosis. Due to obstruction of blood flow to vital organs, brain and heart, clinical manifestation of cardiovascular diseases such as strokes, myocardial infarction and transient cerebral ischemic attacks begin to occur. Coronary artery disease (CAD) is ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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