Heart and Blood Vessel Disorders

Heart Disorders


  • Arrhythmia – abnormal heartbeat
    1. Bradycardia – a slow heart rate; less than 60 beats per minutes
    2. Tachycardia – fast heart rate; greater than 100 beats per minute
    3. Heart flutter – very rapid heart rate of 200 – 300 beats per minutes
    4. Fibrillation – rapid uncoordinated contractions of the heart; it is so uncoordinated that blood is not adequately pumped from ventricles; cause of death in a heart attack


  • Congestive heart failure –(CHF) – acute or chronic inability of the heart to pump out the blood returned to it by the veins; blood backs up due to poor activity of the heart and leads to fatigue, edema (accumulation of fluid) of the lungs, feet, and legs.


  • Heart murmurs – unusual heart sounds. Usually caused by defective heart valves


  • Myocardial infarction – heart attack – a portion of the myocardium dies due to an obstruction in a coronary artery (atherosclerosis); can lead to fibrillation and death if a large portion of the myocardium is damaged


  • Pericarditis – inflammation of the pericardium usually caused by a bacterial or viral infection


Blood Vessel Disorders


  • Aneurysm – weakened portion of a blood vessel that bulges out, forming a balloon-like sac filled with blood; a rupture may produce a fatal hemorrhage


  • Arteriosclerosis – hardening of the arteries due calcium deposits in the wall of the tunica media; occurs with atherosclerosis


  • Atherosclerosis – formation of fatty deposits (cholesterol and triglycerides) in the tunica internal of arterial walls; these plaques reduce the size of the blood vessel and restrict blood flow. It increases the probably of clots and could block blood flow in vital areas such as the coronary arteries and lead to a heart attack


  • Hypertension – chronic high blood pressure; >140/90; most common disease of blood vessels


  • Phlebitis – inflammation of a vein


  • Varicose veins – valves in the veins are damaged and the vessel becomes dilated and swollen; occurs most often during pregnancy, standing for long periods, lack of physical activity. Heredity can also play a role. Varicose veins can also occur in the anal canal in times of chronic constipation – called hemorrhoids