Circulatory System Diseases

Circulatory system is one of the vital systems of the body that is concerned with transporting nutrients, oxygen and vital hormones and neurotransmitters to all parts of the body. Circulatory system is composed of blood, blood vessels and heart that play a major role in the normal metabolic functioning of the body by transferring nutrients to distant parts and helps in collection and excretion of the waste products like carbon dioxide via lungs. Any alteration in the normal functioning of circulatory cycle leads to circulatory system diseases, which includes both heart disease and vascular disorders, that constitutes the leading cause of the death all over the world.

The following is a compact list of circulatory system diseases.


Heart Diseases

Heart is the major and most important element of circulatory system. The pathology or diseases that affect the physiological functions of the heart are as follows:


Angina is commonly referred to as chest pain in layman terms and referred to as the sharp and shooting pain that is severe in intensity and develop when the blood supply to the heart muscles is altered as a result of ischemia. The pain is usually felt to the left of sternum or in epigastrium and radiates to neck, arms, and back (especially concentrated at the scapular region). It may persist up to 5-15 min. The patients should be taken immediately to the hospital as it is usually a warning sign of impending heart attack. It is usually relieved by rest, nitroglycerin and oxygen administration.


Cardiomyopathy is the disease of the heart muscles that may lead to enlarged, thick or rigid heart muscles. It can be acquired or inherited in nature and causes weakening of the heart muscles especially of the ventricles. If left untreated; it may spreads to involve upper chambers of heart. As cardiomyopathy worsens it can cause scarring and weakening of the heart muscles resulting in congestive heart failure and even death.

Rheumatic Heart Disease

It is an inflammatory condition that mainly involves cardiac valves as a result of chronic history of untreated or poorly managed rheumatic fever. The condition is mainly associated with strep-throat infection that may lead to obstruction of the heart valves or insufficiency as a result of auto-immune destruction.


An arrhythmia is an abnormal rate or rhythm of the heartbeat. It can beat too fast, too slow, or with an irregular rhythm. If the heart beat is fast it is called as tachycardia and if is too slow, it is referred to as bradycardia. Generally mild arrhythmias are harmless, but if left poorly managed, the rhythm abnormalities may prove life threatening.

Congenital Heart Defects

Congenital heart defects are abnormalities in the morphological or physiological functioning of the heart that are present at the time of birth. The primary cause is the incomplete or abnormal development of the fetal heart during the early weeks of pregnancy. The exact aetiology is unknown but it can be associated with genetic disorders, such as Down syndrome or use of certain drugs by pregnant mommy during pregnancy. It is not possible to prevent congenital heart defect but there are many treatments to manage the cardiac defects early in the neonatal period to prevent complications.

Vascular Diseases

Vascular diseases are referred to as disorders of blood vessels.


Hypertension is the most common vascular disorder that has become the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in all parts of the world. Hypertension occurs when the heart pump blood through the narrow vessels as a result of atherosclerosis or stiffening of arteries due to aging or inherited vascular conditions. The pumping through the narrowed vessel consistently increases the systolic and diastolic pressure above normal reference range. Increased work load of heart leads to damaged tissues and increases the risk of cardiac diseases, kidney diseases, aneurysms and stroke.

Aortic Aneurysm

It is the abnormal dilatation of the aorta leading to the weakening of the walls. Large or fast growing aortic aneurysm can rupture that can lead to severe pain; massive internal bleeding and even death if not treated immediately.


Atherosclerosis is a chronic vascular disease that may remain asymptomatic for many years leading to the hardening of the arteries due to the accumulation of fat, cholesterol, and other substances in the arterial walls. The condition usually affects medium and large arteries. If untreated the condition may lead to complete occlusion of the vessel leading to cessation of blood supply to the heart or brain. Smoking, alcohol, diabetes, cholesterol and hypertension increase the risk of atherosclerosis.

Deep Vein Thrombosis

Development of a blood clot as a result of stasis of blood or hypercoaguable state like pregnancy, Protein C and S deficiency and other factors in the deep veins of the leg is referred to as deep vein thrombosis. In most situations, the thrombus is asymptomatic and concealed but may also present with mild to moderate pain, discoloration and swelling in the affected area of leg. It usually develops during periods of prolonged immobility like orthopedic or spinal surgery, and hypercoagulable states. The most dreadful complication of DVT is the dislodgment of thrombus that may block pulmonary vessels leading to pulmonary embolism.

Polyarteritis Nodosa

It is a serious inflammatory disease of unknown etiology affecting small to medium sized arteries, but latest research suggests a possible association with hepatitis B infection. Polyarteritis Nodosa is characterized by muscle and joint aches, fever, night sweats, fatigue, and weight loss. Treatment modalities are mostly dependent on the extent of the illness, and the parts of the body involved. Most commonly used drugs are corticosteroids and other immunosuppressive therapies.

Coronary Artery Disease

Coronary artery disease (CAD) is one of the common vascular diseases marked by accumulation of atherosclerotic plaque in the coronary blood vessels. As the plaque thickens, secondary changes may take place like enlargement of size and calcification that may lead to complete occlusion of lumen of the coronary artery, resulting in inadequate supply of oxygen to the heart muscle.

Peripheral Vascular Disease

Peripheral Vascular Disease is also called peripheral artery disease. It is a vascular disorder marked by obstruction of large arteries of the legs and hands. It causes either acute or chronic ischemia due to atherosclerosis or inflammatory processes.


Hypercholesterolemia refers to high cholesterol level. There are mainly two types of cholesterol, one is low-density lipoproteins (LDL) that is not good for the body and other is high-density lipoproteins (HDL) that is considered good quality cholesterol because of its cardio-protective properties. Elevated LDL levels increase the risk for heart diseases and stroke.

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