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So many problems can occur in the cardiovascular system of your body. Some of them mainly involve the heart and others the blood vessels, but one big one involves both at the same time!

Murphy’s Law

Murphy’s law, anything that can go wrong will go wrong, seems like an appropriate phrase for this lesson’s content. Your cardiovascular system is made up of your heart and the blood vessels that transport the blood, which is pumped by the heart, all over the body. They, like any section of your body, can suffer from disease.Seeing as the heart is made up of many different parts and there are tens of thousands of miles worth of blood vessels in your body, then it’s easy to see how many things can go wrong along this massive and complex network.

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I mean, if you were to go on a car ride for 30,000 miles, you’d probably face everything from drunk drivers to mudslides to deflating wheels at high speed as just some of the things that can end in disaster.

Valvular Heart Disease ; Septal Defects

The disaster in our body would be a cardiovascular disease. Now, let’s begin by looking at some of the problems that can affect the heart.First, there’s something called valvular heart disease; it’s a term for different conditions that can affect the valves of the heart, including the tricuspid, mitral, pulmonary, and aortic valves. Valves of the heart do exactly the same thing valves do in plumbing – they help to regulate the flow of liquid in one direction.

Anyways, there are two big categories of valvular heart disease.One is called regurgitation. Think about what this word means to you, to regurgitate something. If you regurgitate your food then it means the food is going back up into your mouth, and that is the wrong way! In valvular regurgitation the blood flows back in the wrong direction in the heart. This increases the workload on the heart and the heart can fail.

This makes sense because if you were pumping air into your car tire, but the air kept flowing back into the hose itself, you’d have to work really hard and really long, and let’s face it, you’d fail at pumping that tire up.The other big valvular problem is known as valvular stenosis. This is when the valves in the heart narrow. This means the heart has a really tough time pumping blood forward. If you are trying to pump up a flat tire on your road trip and your friend decides to step on the hose connecting the pump to the tire, the hose will narrow and you’ll have a really tough time pumping air forward. You’d tire and eventually fail, and the heart eventually fails in this instance as well.

Other issues that can affect the heart are collectively called septal defects, holes in the walls of the heart. These holes form in the walls that separate the inner chambers of the heart. Their presence permits the improper leakage of blood to one side of the heart or another. This not only forces the heart to work harder but also results in the improper oxygenation of the blood. Just think about a car tire with a big hole leaking air out; you’ll never be able to properly fill the tire with oxygen, and you’ll have to work a lot harder because of that gaping hole.

Hypertension and Deep Vein Thrombosis

But as I said in the in beginning, the cardiovascular system also involves the blood vessels, so let’s switch gears over to them. One very well-known problem affecting the blood vessels is known as hypertension, or high blood pressure.

Now, often times we actually have no idea why someone has high blood pressure, but it doesn’t matter too much because any cause of high blood pressure can damage the blood vessels in your body.This makes it more difficult for your heart to pump blood through the body. This is because one of the things hypertension leads to is the hardening of your arteries. This is like having a very inelastic hose connected to your tire pump, meaning it cannot accommodate much of the air you are trying to pump forward, and this makes it very difficult to pump the air to the tire.Another issue at stake with blood vessels is known as deep vein thrombosis. Here, a blood clot (a thrombus) forms in the deep veins of a leg.

That seems innocent enough compared to what can happen next. The blood clot can dislodge and, like a bullet, speed its way to the lungs to cause a pulmonary embolism. The embolism refers to a little piece of the blood clot that breaks off and travels elsewhere, in our case the lungs. A pulmonary embolism can result in a person’s death.

Coronary Heart Disease

Okay, now you’ve gotten a good overview of problems that can affect the heart and blood vessels. But I’ve left the big one for last. It’s a problem that causes many deaths every single year and it involves not just the heart, not just the blood vessels, but the blood vessels of the heart itself that results in the heart’s death.This big problem is known as coronary heart disease (a.k.a. coronary artery disease).

This is a condition where coronary arteries, the arteries supplying your heart with oxygen, become constricted as a result of atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a situation where plaque builds up in the arteries, in our case, the coronary arteries, the arteries of the heart.All of this narrowing of the arteries itself, as well as any blood clots that may further block the flow of blood to the heart muscle, can result in a heart attack. Since the blood isn’t getting to heart muscle itself, the heart muscle dies, and the person can obviously die thereafter.

Lesson Summary

So many disasters, so little time. Many of these problems can be avoided or helped with medication or surgery, potentially averting even more serious problems. So, like keeping your tires inflated properly can help prevent car crashes, treating heart disease, a topic of another lesson, can do wonders for your health.Some of the potential cardiovascular disasters we discussed in this lesson include valvular heart disease, which is a term for different conditions that can affect the valves of the heart, including the tricuspid, mitral, pulmonary, and aortic valves.

One type of valvular disease is regurgitation, where blood flows back in the opposite direction. This is in contrast to a problem known as stenosis, where blood has trouble flowing forward through the valves.We also discussed septal defects, holes in the walls of the heart. These holes cause the improper mixing of oxygenated and deoxygenated blood and increase the workload on the heart. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, can also increase the work on the heart by accelerating the process of the hardening of the arteries. While deep vein thrombosis doesn’t cause hardening of the arteries it can throw a clot to the lungs, known as a pulmonary embolism, which can quickly kill a person.

And if solely heart issues or solely blood vessels issues weren’t enough, then I hate to be Debbie Downer here, but coronary heart disease (a.k.a. coronary artery disease) affects the blood vessels of the heart, leading to heart death. This is a condition where coronary arteries, the arteries supplying your heart with oxygen, become constricted as a result of atherosclerosis.

And atherosclerosis, is a situation where plaque builds up in the arteries, in our case, the coronary arteries, the arteries of the heart.

Learning Outcomes

The purpose of this video lesson is to prepare you to:

  • Discuss some of the diseases that can affect the blood vessel network
  • Explain how the heart is affected by valvular disease and septal defects
  • Describe the effect of hypertension and atherosclerosis on blood vessels and arteries

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