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Circulatory System Diseases

The circulatory system consists of the heart, blood, and blood vessels, which transport nutrients and oxygen to all
cells to keep the body in proper balance. This article discusses common circulatory system diseases and the
corresponding treatment options.

The circulatory system is responsible for moving blood, nutrients, and gases to and from cells to keep the
body in proper balance. The important components of the circulatory system have different functions. The
blood vessels transport blood to and from the heart, the heart pumps oxygenated blood to the body, and
the oxygen, gases, and nutrients exchange in the capillaries. Anything that affects the integrity of the
tubing can impair the health of the circulatory system.
Diseases of the circulatory system should never be neglected. What are the common diseases of our
circulatory system?

Common Circulatory System Diseases

Arteriosclerosis is a common disease of the circulatory system caused by the buildup of fat, cholesterol,
or other substance in the artery wall. Deposits in the artery cause the vessel to stiffen and narrow.
Diabetes, high cholesterol, smoking, and high blood pressure can result in stiff arteries that restrict blood
flow through the heart.

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, occurs when a high force of blood presses against the artery walls
over time. This condition can develop from a diet high in salt, smoking, kidney disease, or some other
underlying medical condition. Untreated high blood pressure may lead to stroke, heart failure, or visual

Aortic Aneurysm
Another common disease of the circulatory system is an aortic aneurysm. An aortic aneurysm occurs
when a section of the aorta bulges, stretches, and swells. This bulge can weaken the aorta to the point
that it bursts, releasing blood into the body. Bleeding from an aortic aneurysm is a medical emergency
that can be caused by high blood pressure, smoking, aging, high cholesterol, and a positive family history.

Heart Disease
Heart disease, or coronary artery disease, occurs when the blood vessels that supply oxygen to the heart
narrow and stiffen. Smoking, an unhealthy diet, stress, and a sedentary lifestyle all increase the risk of
heart disease. A heart attack or stroke can occur if the condition is untreated.

Varicose veins
Varicose veins are another common disease of the circulatory system that happens when veins in the
legs twist, swell, and become painful. Aging, pregnancy, prolonged standing, and defective valves can all
contribute to the development of varicose veins. Most of the time varicose veins can be treated by
elevating the lower extremities, avoiding prolonged standing or sitting positions, and wearing supportive

Chronic Venous Insufficiency

This condition occurs when blood pools or collects in the lower extremities, but its difficult to return to
the heart. Symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency include:

Swelling in the lower legs and ankles

Aching or tired feeling in the legs

Varicose veins
Chronic venous insufficiency can result from obesity, history of varicose veins, deep vein thrombosis,
sedentary lifestyle, long periods of sitting or standing, being over the age of 50, female, or pregnant.
Ways to prevent chronic venous insufficiency include:

Avoid prolonged periods of standing or sitting.

Participate in regular exercise.

Wear compression stockings.

Angina is a symptom of an underlying heart condition that occurs when the flow of blood and oxygen are
restricted to the heart muscles. Symptoms of angina include:

Chest pain

Pressure or squeezing in the chest

Frequent or infrequent chest pain.

Tightness in chest
Diabetes, hypertension, smoking and other circulatory diseases can increase the risk for angina.
Treatment of angina focuses on restoring proper blood flow to the heart.

Peripheral Vascular Disease

Peripheral vascular disease occurs when the arteries and veins supplying the lower extremities narrow
and stiffen from the buildup of plaque. Common symptoms of peripheral vascular disease include:

Pain with movement.

Tingling, burning, or numbness in feet when resting.



Pain and cramps at night

Lifestyle changes, aspirin, and/or stain drugs may be used to treat the condition. If lifestyle changes and
medications do not work an angioplasty or stent placement may be preformed

An arrhythmia occurs when the heart beats too fast, too slow, or skips a beat. Common symptoms of
arrhythmias include:


Shortness of breath

Chest pain
Arrhythmias can develop from a congenital heart defect, diabetes, stress, medications, a heart attack, or
high blood pressure. Medications can be given to slow down the heart rate. A pacemaker may be
surgically implanted in those individuals that do not respond to medications.

Other Common Circulatory System Diseases

There are several other common diseases of the circulatory system including endocarditis, acute
coronary syndrome, pulmonary valve stenosis, etc. Here is a brief look at some of the common diseases
of the circulatory system.





Inflammation of the inner layer of

For infective endocarditis antibiotics are

the heart this can be infective or

the initial treatment of choice. Sometimes


a heart valve replacement is needed.

There is unstable angina, STAcute Coronary

elevation myocardial infarction or

Aspirin and nitroglycerin are used to treat


non-ST elevation myocardial

this condition.

Pulmonary Valve

Here the pulmonary value cannot

Surgery to treat or replace the value is the


complete open resulting in

treatment of choice.

decreased blood flow to the




There is no general treatment for this

Inability to organize or plan tasks.

condition and often the condition resolves

without treatment.

Blood clots develop in the veins

of the extremities.

Anticoagulants can be used to prevent clot

formation and other medications are used
to dissolve clots.

Blood vessels in the neck are

Temporal Arteritis

damaged from an immune

This is treated with corticosteroids.



An abnormally fast heart rate that

originates from the ventricles of
the heart.

This is not treated unless an emergency

develops. In an emergency cardioversion,
CPR or anti-arrhythmic medications are
often given.

Congenital Heart

Structural abnormalities of the

Medications or surgery is needed to


heart that is present at birth.

restore proper function.

Disease of the heart muscle


where the chambers enlarge and


May require a heart transplant.