Circulatory System Diseases

The circulatory system consists of the heart, blood, and blood vessels, which transport nutrients and oxygen to all cells to keep the body in proper balance. This article discusses common circulatory system diseases and the corresponding treatment options.

The circulatory system is responsible for moving blood, nutrients, and gases to and from cells to keep the body in proper balance. The important components of the circulatory system have different functions. The blood vessels transport blood to and from the heart, the heart pumps oxygenated blood to the body, and the oxygen, gases, and nutrients exchange in the capillaries. Anything that affects the integrity of the tubing can impair the health of the circulatory system.

Diseases of the circulatory system should never be neglected. What are the common diseases of our circulatory system?

Common Circulatory System Diseases

Arteriosclerosis

Arteriosclerosis is a common disease of the circulatory system caused by the buildup of fat, cholesterol, or other substance in the artery wall. Deposits in the artery cause the vessel to stiffen and narrow. Diabetes, high cholesterol, smoking, and high blood pressure can result in stiff arteries that restrict blood flow through the heart.

Hypertension

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, occurs when a high force of blood presses against the artery walls over time. This condition can develop from a diet high in salt, smoking, kidney disease, or some other underlying medical condition. Untreated high blood pressure may lead to stroke, heart failure, or visual problems.

Aortic Aneurysm

Another common disease of the circulatory system is an aortic aneurysm. An aortic aneurysm occurs when a section of the aorta bulges, stretches, and swells. This bulge can weaken the aorta to the point that it bursts, releasing blood into the body. Bleeding from an aortic aneurysm is a medical emergency that can be caused by high blood pressure, smoking, aging, high cholesterol, and a positive family history.

Heart Disease

Heart disease, or coronary artery disease, occurs when the blood vessels that supply oxygen to the heart narrow and stiffen. Smoking, an unhealthy diet, stress, and a sedentary lifestyle all increase the risk of heart disease. A heart attack or stroke can occur if the condition is untreated.

Varicose veins

Varicose veins are another common disease of the circulatory system that happens when veins in the legs twist, swell, and become painful. Aging, pregnancy, prolonged standing, and defective valves can all contribute to the development of varicose veins. Most of the time varicose veins can be treated by elevating the lower extremities, avoiding prolonged standing or sitting positions, and wearing supportive stockings.

Chronic Venous Insufficiency

This condition occurs when blood pools or collects in the lower extremities, but it’s difficult to return to the heart. Symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency include:

  • Swelling in the lower legs and ankles
  • Aching or tired feeling in the legs
  • Varicose veins

Chronic venous insufficiency can result from obesity, history of varicose veins, deep vein thrombosis, sedentary lifestyle, long periods of sitting or standing, being over the age of 50, female, or pregnant. Ways to prevent chronic venous insufficiency include:

  • Avoid prolonged periods of standing or sitting.
  • Participate in regular exercise.
  • Wear compression stockings.

Angina

Angina is a symptom of an underlying heart condition that occurs when the flow of blood and oxygen are restricted to the heart muscles. Symptoms of angina include:

  • Chest pain
  • Pressure or squeezing in the chest
  • Frequent or infrequent chest pain.
  • Tightness in chest

Diabetes, hypertension, smoking and other circulatory diseases can increase the risk for angina. Treatment of angina focuses on restoring proper blood flow to the heart.

Peripheral Vascular Disease

Peripheral vascular disease occurs when the arteries and veins supplying the lower extremities narrow and stiffen from the buildup of plaque. Common symptoms of peripheral vascular disease include:

  • Pain with movement.
  • Tingling, burning, or numbness in feet when resting.
  • Fatigue
  • Achiness
  • Pain and cramps at night

Lifestyle changes, aspirin, and/or stain drugs may be used to treat the condition. If lifestyle changes and medications do not work an angioplasty or stent placement may be preformed

Arrhythmia

An arrhythmia occurs when the heart beats too fast, too slow, or skips a beat. Common symptoms of arrhythmias include:

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain

Arrhythmias can develop from a congenital heart defect, diabetes, stress, medications, a heart attack, or high blood pressure. Medications can be given to slow down the heart rate.  A pacemaker may be surgically implanted in those individuals that do not respond to medications.

Other Common Circulatory System Diseases

There are several other common diseases of the circulatory system including endocarditis, acute coronary syndrome, pulmonary valve stenosis, etc. Here is a brief look at some of the common diseases of the circulatory system.

Disease

Description

Treatments

Endocarditis

Inflammation of the inner layer of the heart this can be infective or non-infective.

For infective endocarditis antibiotics are the initial treatment of choice. Sometimes a heart valve replacement is needed.

Acute Coronary Syndrome

There is unstable angina, ST-elevation myocardial infarction or non-ST elevation myocardial infarction.

Aspirin and nitroglycerin are used to treat this condition.

Pulmonary Valve Stenosis

Here the pulmonary value cannot complete open resulting in decreased blood flow to the lungs.

Surgery to treat or replace the value is the treatment of choice.

Conceptual Apraxia.

Inability to organize or plan tasks.

There is no general treatment for this condition and often the condition resolves without treatment.

Thrombophlebitis

Blood clots develop in the veins of the extremities.

Anticoagulants can be used to prevent clot formation and other medications are used to dissolve clots.

Temporal Arteritis

Blood vessels in the neck are damaged from an immune response.

This is treated with corticosteroids.

Ventricular Tachycardia

An abnormally fast heart rate that originates from the ventricles of the heart.

This is not treated unless an emergency develops. In an emergency cardioversion, CPR or anti-arrhythmic medications are often given.

Congenital Heart Defects

Structural abnormalities of the heart that is present at birth.

Medications or surgery is needed to restore proper function.

Cardiomyopathy

Disease of the heart muscle where the chambers enlarge and weaken.

May require a heart transplant.


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