By Eric Sorenson
Anatomy and Physiology I
Fall 2012, Dr. Timothy Lyden
I have chosen to focus my research on a major cardiovascular disease, which is in fact very relevant since it is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States. I am talking in particular Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) and the associated health problem that result. This disease is also known by related terms such as Ischemic Heart Disease (IHD), Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) or Arteriosclerotic Heart Disease. A basic definition of this disease is the narrowing of the small coronary blood vessels, the ones that supply blood and oxygen to the heart. This disease typically becomes onset as a result of atherosclerosis, the dangerous accumulation of fat, cholesterol and calcium in the walls of the arteries that tends to restrict blood flow and severely affects the elasticity and contractibility.
In order to fully understand the pathology, symptoms, treatment and recovery of patients with coronary heart disease and other related cardiovascular problems we must first understand the nature of the cardiovascular system. According to the centers for disease control and prevention (CDC) America’s burden lies in heart disease. The latest estimates which were posted and updates on October 16, 2012 say that at least six hundred thousand people die from heart disease in the United States alone. If you do the math that’s the way a quarter of all the people in the United States die every year. That means that one in four people in this very room will die from some heart related disorder or disease. Of all the heart diseases coronary heart disease (CHD) is the most deadly clocking in about three hundred and eighty five thousand people every year, that’s more than half of all the deaths due to heart disease. What is even scarier is that about seventy thousand people shy of a million have a heart attack each year in the United States alone. Not only is this disease widespread amongst men and women alike, but it is also the leading cause of death amongst most ethnic groups in the United States such as whites, African-Americans and Hispanics. Interesting cancer is number one killer amongst Alaskan natives, Native Americans, and Pacific Islanders, where coronary heart disease comes in as the second most killer. Looking at demographics, the incidence of deaths due to heart disease were the most prevalent in the south and the least prevalent in the western United States. See the image to the left from the CDC for demographic information on heart disease deaths. One interesting observation that one can infer from this graph to the left is that even though the prevalence of the disease is the lowest in the western United States the state of Arizona has very high numbers compared to the rest of the demographic region. People die from coronary heart disease by cardiac arrest when the body cannot get blood to the heart to be able to power the cardiovascular system. It is absolutely essential the cardiac cells have adequate oxygen supply or else it like anything else will stop working. The arteries become so clogged by deposition of fat and calcium that will start initially by limiting the flow of blood to the heart or other related arteries. With age this disorder tends to progress and worsen, especially when diet and lifestyle are not changed. When the blockages become too much infarction of the heart muscle will ensue. The heart is a highly specialized and highly engineered biological pump that delivers the essential connective tissue known as blood to literally every single cell of the entire body. This organ is a four chambered muscle and thus consists of four pumps. These chambers are as follows the right atrium, the right ventricle, the left atrium and the left ventricle. The primary function of the heart is to take de-oxygenated blood, put it into the lungs where...