Heart Discovery 101

Our heart is an amazing organ that pumps blood throughout our body and each lifegiving beat forces the blood to each and every body system. This section is to help you understand the basics of how your heart works and disease that can decrease its efficiency.

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Diagram courtesy of the British Heart Foundation

Heart Vocabulary

  • Chest Pain

    Chest pain is one of the most frightening symptoms a person can have. It is sometimes difficult even for a doctor or other medical professional to tell what is causing chest pain and whether it is life-threatening. Any part of…

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  • Coronary Artery Disease

    How does Coronary Artery Disease Develop? Your coronary arteries are blood vessels on the heart. They are smooth and elastic, allowing blood to flow freely. Before your teen years, fat can start to deposit in the blood vessel walls. As…

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  • Heart Failure

    Heart failure is present when the following changes are present: Your heart muscle cannot pump, or eject, the blood out of the heart very well. This is called systolic heart failure. Your heart muscles are stiff and do not fill…

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  • Arrhythmia

    Most arrhythmias are harmless, but some can be serious or even life threatening. When the heart rate is too fast, too slow, or irregular, the heart may not be able to pump enough blood to the body. Lack of blood…

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  • Heart Valve Disease

    Failure in a valve in the left side of the heart – the aortic or the mitral valve – results in left-sided heart failure. This leads to an accumulation of fluids in the lungs, or pulmonary edema. Valve diseases of…

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  • Venous Insufficiency

    What are the causes of venous insufficiency? In healthy veins, there is continuous flow of blood from the limbs back toward the heart. There are valves within the veins of the legs that prevent the backflow of blood. In many…

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  • Varicose Veins

    Arteries bring blood from the heart to the extremities, veins, which have one-way valves, channel blood back to the heart. If the valves don’t function well, blood doesn’t flow efficiently. The veins become enlarged because they are congested with blood.…

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  • Spider Veins

    They are much more common in women and their most prominent characteristic is their reddish or bluish color. They too are inherited and have nothing to do with diet, exercise or weight. Like varicose veins, they often make their first…

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  • Leg Skin Changes

    Eventually the constant increased pressure and swelling causes the skin to become damaged and inflamed (cellulitis) The skin eventually becomes reddish brown, hard, thick, leathery, dry and itchy. Although treatment will probably not reverse all of the skin changes, treatment…

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  • Leg Edema

    It may affect just the foot and ankle or extend to the thigh, and may be slight or dramatic and pitting or nonpitting. Leg edema may result from venous disorders, trauma, and certain bone and cardiac disorders that disturb normal…

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  • Deep Vein Thrombosis

    There are two types of veins in the leg; superficial veins and deep veins. Superficial veins lie just below the skin and are easily seen on the surface. Deep veins are located deep within the muscles of the leg. Blood…

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