Surgical Technologist Guides: Studying Cardiovascular Diseases
When we think of cardiovascular diseases, we often think of heart attacks or strokes fearing that they may ultimately lead to death. However, these diseases are part of a vast category in medicine, and can range from a miniscule problem that can be dealt with by a simple prescription, to complicated issues that require cardiothoracic surgeons. For a disease that claims more lives a year than cancer, it can often be frustrating to find the appropriate resources. Many can be densely written: these are jargon-laden scientific articles for researchers, and not suited for a general audience. To better assist navigation for this complicated subject matter, compiled below is a resource directory for a variety of cardiovascular diseases, for aspiring surgical technologists, scholars and all others alike.
Congenital Heart Defects
Congenital heart defects are heart diseases, disorders, or defects that arise from birth. Many congenital heart defects include an obstruction of blood flow or abnormal blood flow. Some severe congenital conditions may require surgery to repair the defect.
Arteriovenous malformations are often congenital (since birth) conditions that include an abnormal connection of veins and arteries. The majority of persons affected go asymptomatic, while others may require surgery.
- Neurovascular Neurosurgery at Mass General
Bacterial endocarditis is an infection of the inner tissues of the heart. Endocarditis may cause interruption or abnormal blood flow, which may be slight to serious. It may also cause death if left untreated.
Cardiac arrhythmia, or cardiac dysrhythmia pertains to irregularities in heart rhythm (too fast or slow). Many arrhythmias are considered minor annoyances and can go untreated, while others may be signs of more serious conditions, such as heart failure.
Atrial fibrillation is a common type of cardiac arrhythmia, involving the atriums (upper chambers) of the heart.
- Guide to atrial fibrillation from MedicineNet
Long QT Syndrome
Long QT syndrome is a congenital heart condition that causes irregularity in heartbeat, leading to palpitations, dizziness and fainting, and ventricular fibrillation.
- A foundation on Long QT Syndrome
Tachycardia is a condition (often in short, sudden spurts) in which the heart rate exceeds the normal rate. Because the heart pumps less efficiently when beating rapidly, tachycardia may potentially be dangerous.
Ventricular fibrillation occurs when the ventricles of the heart improperly contracts, causing disruption in blood flow, and cardiac arrest.
- The Merck Manual‘s guide
Cardiomegaly, Cardiomyopathy, and Hypertrophy
Cardiomegaly is a condition where the heart becomes enlarged. Cardiomyopathy encompasses diseases that affect the heart muscles, leading to deteriorating function. Hypertrophy occurs when the volume of cells in the heart increase.
- Healthscout.com‘s guide to cardiomegaly and cardiomyopathy
- The Cardiomyopathy Association
- Cardiomegaly Info from the Mayo Clinic
- Cardiomyopathy in the Merck Manual
- WebMD on restrictive cardiomyopathy
Myocarditis is an inflammation of heart muscles. Although it can be mistaken for a heart attack, myocarditis does not cause blockage of arteries.
- A myocarditis resource from the NIH
Heart failure is designated as any condition that causes the heart to perform abnormally, disrupting blood flow for the body. Conditions include cardiomyopathy, hypertension, and ischemic heart disease.
Heart Valve Diseases
Heart valve diseases include any defects or interruptions in the way the mitral or tricuspid valves perform.
- A review of valvular heart disease
- An article on aortic valve stenosis
- Mitral valve prolapse from eMedicine
- A description from the Texas Heart Institute
Myocardial ischemia is a discrepancy between oxygen supply and demand.
Severe chest pain due to a lack of blood and oxygen supply is known as angina pectoris. Angina is often caused by coronary artery disease (blockage).
- The NIH on angina pectoris
More commonly known as a heart attack, a myocardial infarction is defined as a disruption of blood flow to the heart, causing it to cease in function. The most common reason for interruption is a blockage of arteries.
- The NIH‘s guide to heart attack signs
- A heart attack guide from the UK’s healthtalkonline.org
- Myocardial infarction from MedicineNet
- Symptoms and warning signs
General Information on Vascular Diseases
Vascular diseases affect the blood vessels of the circulatory system. This includes ischemia, atherosclerosis, and other buildups in the blood vessels.
An aortic aneurysm occurs in the artery carrying blood to the left ventricle. An aneurysm may burst when the volume of its size increases, causing hemorrhage or death.
Otherwise known as a brain aneurysm, the ballooning of an artery or vein occurs at the base of the brain.
Moyamoya syndrome is a when arteries in the brain become constricted, leading to blood flow interruptions.
Angiomatosis is a condition in which knots form in the capillaries.
Arteriosclerosis occurs when the arteries stiffen or harden.
Polyarteritis nodosa is when arteries become swollen and/or damaged by immune cells, causing disrupted blood flow from heart to organs and tissues.
Intracranial hemorrhaging occurs when there is bleeding within the skull. Common causes for brain bleeding are trauma injuries, as well as strokes.
Thrombosis is a blood clot inside a blood vessel that often occurs when there is injury. Severe thrombosis will lead to complications including an obstruction of blood flow.
- The NIH on deep vein thrombosis
- Thrombophilia resource group
- The FAA on deep vein thrombosis
- The Mayo Clinic on thrombophlebitis
Hypertension is more commonly known as high blood pressure. Hypertension is influenced by other cardiovascular conditions, diet, and lifestyles.
- The NIH on malignant hypertension
- Hypertension and cardiovascular physiology
- The NIH defining hypertension
Opposite of hypertension, hypotension is a condition involving abnormally low blood pressure. In less severe cases, hypotension can lead to dizziness, due to the lack of oxygenated blood reaching the body. In more extreme cases, the subdued supply and demand of blood throughout the body may cause severe damage to organs.
Peripheral Vascular Diseases
Peripheral vascular diseases affect arteries that are not near the heart or brain. Typical cases of PVD include atherosclerosis, embolism, or thrombosis of limbs.
Veins that become enlarged and noticeably visible from the skin’s surface are called varicose veins. It occurs where there is dysfunction in blood flow.
Vasculitis affects both veins and arteries, where they become inflamed and destroyed.
General Cardiovascular Disease Links
- The American Heart Association‘s Heart and Stroke Encyclopedia
- Concepts in cardiovascular physiology
- Cardiology Explained from the NCBI bookshelf
- CardioVillage, a group at the University of Virginia sponsoring cardiology CME
- A guide to cardiovascular examination
- Heart tutorial from the University of Utah
- A “cardiac atlas” from the Auckland MRI Research Group
- A more global-scale view of the cardiovascular system
- The website of the Circulation Foundation [UK]
- A cardiovascular system glossary
- Glossary of cardiovascular terms from the Texas Heart Institute
Other Heart Disease Resource Links
- Cardiac anatomy from Yale-New Haven Hospital
- Practical guide to clinical medicine from UCSD
- The ECG learning center at the University of Utah
- Development of the human heart
- Clinical techniques from the Cardiothoracic Surgery Network
Image source: http://scopeblog.stanford.edu