• Created by: Maryam
  • Created on: 31-10-12 18:07

Cardiovascular diseases in the UK

Problems with the cardiovascular system have serious consequences. Data from the Office for National Statistics in England and Wales for 2005 showed that the heart disease were responsible for more deaths (20.2% of deaths) than any other cause. Many of these cardiovascular diseases are linked to a condition called atherosclerosis.

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How Atherosclerosis forms

Atherosclerosis literally means hardening of the arteries, and is a buildup of yellowish fatty deposits (plaque) on the outside of the arteries. It can begin in late childhood and continues throughout life. A plaque can build up until it restricts the flow of blood through the artery or even blocks it completely. Plaques are particularly more likely to form in the arteries of the heart (coronary arteries) and of the neck (carotid arteries). 

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What happens in Atherosclerosis?

Once the damage has occurred, the body’s inflammatory response begins and white blood cells arrive at the site of the damage. These cells accumulate chemicals from the blood, in particular cholesterol. This leads to fatty deposits known as an atheroma forming on the endothelial lining of the artery. Fibrous tissue and calcium salts also build up around the atheroma, turning it into a harden plaque. This hardened area means part of the artery wall hardens, so it is less elastic than it should be. This is atherosclerosis.

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Problems caused by Atherosclerosis and high blood

If an area of artery is narrowed by plaque, blood tends to build up behind the blockage. The artery bugles and the wall is under more pressure than usual, which can cause the walls of the artery to severely weaken. This is known as Aneurysm.  The weakened artery my split open, leading to massive internal bleeding. Aneurysm often happens in the brain or the aorta, especially in the abdomen. The massive blood loss and drop in pressure are often fatal. However sometimes aneurysms can be diagnosed and treated by surgery before they burst.

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