Understanding Chronic Conditions: Cardiovascular Disease
Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) is more commonly known as “heart disease,” a term that encompasses many different kinds of heart-related ailments. These ailments include diseases of the arteries, heart valve disease, and stroke.
CVD also encompasses atherosclerosis, the buildup of plaque on artery walls. Arterial plaque is made of a combination of substances, including cholesterol and fatty substances that can accumulate due to an unhealthy diet and little exercise. This plaque build up can result in the formation of clots that restrict blood flow to the heart. The blockage of blood to the heart is called a myocardial infarction, commonly referred to as a “heart attack.” If the pressure inside the artery becomes too great, it can rupture, causing internal bleeding and often death. Atherosclerosis is related to Coronary Heart Disease (CHD), which is the most common form of heart disease and also the most common cause of heart attacks.
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One of the many conditions enveloped in the term “heart disease” is called “arrhythmia.” Two common forms of arrhythmia are tachycardia and bradycardia. Tachycardia entails a heartbeat that is faster than average, above 100 beats per minute. Bradycardia entails a heartbeat that is slower than average, less than 60 beats per minute. Arrhythmia also manifests as Atrial Fibrillation and Ventricular Fibrillation, the irregular contraction of the upper and lower chambers of the heart, respectively.
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Heart valve disease is another form of CVD which can manifest in several ways. Stenosis is a condition where valves in the heart do not open enough and restrict blood flow. Regurgitation is where arterial valves don’t close enough and can cause lowered blood pressure. Mitral valve prolapse occurs when a valve in the heart bulges abnormally and does not allow the valve to close properly– it is sometimes referred to as “floppy valve syndrome” because the leaflets of the valve billow too much.
Preventing CVD starts with education. Knowing what kinds of illnesses spring from poor heart health is the first step to being vigilant about developing problems. It’s critical that physicians, nurses, and patients are all informed of these issues so that emergent problems, like heart attacks, can be avoided.
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This educational infographic discusses the types, prevalence, causes, and prevention of heart disease. Nurses in particular need to be familiar with CVD because it is one of the most prevalent forms of chronic illness in the world.