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Circulatory system diseases

With the heart pumping 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, its absolutely vital
to make sure things are flowing smoothly (pun intended!). Unfortunately, this
isnt always the case, and different parts of the circulatory system can cause
problems: your heart, your blood vessels, and even the fluid in your tissues
and blood itself can be the issue. To further complicate things, the underlying
reasons for circulatory system problems vary from your genes (nature) to
your lifestyle habits (nurture). An understanding of how different diseases
can affect your circulatory system is important to combat this growing
problem in the world.

5 Diseases & Disorders in the Circulatory System


Overview
The circulatory system, or cardiovascular system, is made up of the heart,
veins, arteries and capillaries. This system is responsible for carrying oxygen
and nutrients to all parts of the body. Heart disease and other circulatory
problems are major sources of disability and death. According to the
American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of
death in the United States.

Aortic Aneurysm
The aorta is the major blood vessel carrying blood away from the heart.
Weakening of the blood vessel wall causes a bulge, called an aneurysm.
Large or fast growing aneurysms can rupture, causing significant loss of
blood into the abdominal cavity. Most aneurysms occur in the abdominal
area, but some begin higher up in the chest. Usually, aortic aneurysms do
not cause symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they may include back, chest or
abdominal pain. A person might be aware of a pulsating feeling around the
naval area. Treatment options range from watchful waiting to surgery,
depending on the size and location of the aneurysm.

Atherosclerosis
Atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, develops when plaque builds up
in the arteries. Plaques are made up of cells, connective tissue and certain

fats. These deposits occur in patches along the inner walls of large and
medium sized arteries. Growth of plaques can block blood flow and oxygen
to the affected areas, possibly leading to a heart attack or stroke. Smoking
and high blood pressure are two major risk factors for developing
atherosclerosis.

Deep Vein Thrombosis


Deep vein thrombosis -- DVT -- occurs when blood clots form in one of the
deep veins -- typically the thigh or calf. Many people with the condition do
not have symptoms, but they may have leg pain, swelling or skin
discoloration in the affected area. DVT can be life-threatening if the clot
travels to the lungs -- a condition called pulmonary embolism. This condition
causes shortness of breath and pain with deep breathing. Factors
contributing to the formation of a DVT are being bed ridden, prolonged
sitting, trauma to the area, pregnancy and obesity. Medication is typically
used to break up clots.

Polyarteritis Nodosa
Ployarteritis nodosa -- PAN -- is a serious inflammatory disease of the small to
medium sized arteries. Many body systems are involved, including the skin,
central nervous system, heart, kidneys and intestinal tract. PAN is commonly
associated with hepatitis B infection, but in most cases the cause for the
illness is unknown. Symptoms of PAN are quite variable, although fever, night
sweats, weight loss, fatigue, and muscle and joint aches are typical.
Treatment of the disease depends on the extent of the illness, and which
parts of the body are involved. Corticosteroids and other immunosuppressive
drugs are often used.

Arteriovenous Malformations
Arteriovenous malformations -- AVMs -- are abnormal tangles of blood
vessels within an area of the circulatory system. They typically develop
before or right after birth. AVMs that form in the brain or spinal cord can
result in particularly severe problems and even death. Most people with
AVMs in the brain or spinal cord experience few, if any symptoms. If they do
occur, it is due to a decrease in oxygen to the area, bleeding, or pressing on
a vital structure. Headaches, seizures and paralysis are some possible side
effects.