The heart and blood vessels
The cardiovascular system is a fascinating organ system whose task is to supply all the body’s organs with oxygen and nutrients, as well as carrying away waste products. Approximately five litres of blood per minute is pumped around the body when it is at rest. During physical activity, stress, or threat, the amount can increase substantially.
Cardiovascular diseases cause 17 million deaths a year around the world. In Sweden it accounts for nearly half of all deaths. Smoking, obesity, diabetes, a sedentary lifestyle, bad eating habits, high blood pressure, stress, and unfavourable genetic factors are the most usual risks for being afflicted.
The panorama of illnesses that strike the cardiovascular system can be:
- arteriosclerosis, which further causes clot formation and obstruction of blood flow, which can lead to myocardial infarction or limb gangrene (local cell or tissue death)
- arterial aneurysms can rupture and lead to bleeding to death
- the pumping function of the heart can deteriorate, leading to development of cardiac failure
- the conducting system of the heart can be defective, leading to dysrhythmia.
Other major cardiac diseases are congenital defects, acquired valvular disorders and inflammation of the cardiac muscle.
Thanks to intensive research on several fronts, the chance of surviving cardiovascular disease has increased drastically over the last 20 years.
Areas of Research
Last updated: 2014-01-08