Introduction

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.

Learning Outcomes

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.