My investigation into an illness or disease that affects a body system we have covered in class is Angina which affects the Cardiovascular System.
What is Angina & How It Affects the Body
Symptoms happen when the blood supply to the heart becomes restricted and the heart muscle is not getting enough oxygen. The most common cause of Angina is Coronary Artery Disease.
This normally happens when the heart needs to work harder than normal because Coronary Arteries have become blocked and narrowed by fatty deposits called Atheroma, which builds up inside the artery wall and prevents and stops blood from circulating to the heart.
The Normal Function of the Body System (The Hearts Job)
The right side of the heart pumps de-oxygenated blood (blood not containing oxygen) to the lungs to pick up oxygen.
The left side of the heart pumps the oxygenated blood from the lungs around the rest of the body.
Blood rich in carbon dioxide and low in oxygen comes from the body (but not the lungs) in the main vein called the vena cava to the right atrium.
The right atrium contracts and blood passes through the tricuspid valve into the right ventricle.
The right ventricle contracts and blood passes through the semi-lunar valve into the pulmonary artery, which then conducts the blood to the lungs.
In the lungs, blood loses carbon dioxide and picks up oxygen (becomes oxygenated).
The oxygenated blood leaves the lungs and passes via the pulmonary vein to the left atrium.
On contraction of the left atrium, blood passes blood through the bicuspid valve into the left ventricle.
The left ventricle contracts and pushes blood through the semi-lunar valve into the main artery called the aorta.
The aorta supplies all tissues (except lungs) with oxygenated blood.
Blood gives up oxygen and picks up carbon dioxide.
The blood is now deoxygenated and returns to the right atrium.
What Angina Feels like & Risk Factors
Symptoms differ from person to person. Angina is typically felt as a discomfort in the middle of the chest. It may start off as a dull pain or ache, but has also been described as burning, tightness, construction, squeezing or a heavy weight on the chest. It may also cause nausea, feeling tired, dizziness and restlessness.
There are many risks that account for angina. Anything that causes the Coronary Arteries to narrow can increase the risk. Medical conditions and poor lifestyle choices make people more vulnerable to the disease.
These risk factors may include:
High blood pressure
Lack of exercise
Excessive alcohol use
Poor diet and high blood cholesterol
Other factors that might trigger an attack also include:
Prevention of Angina
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the best way to reducethe risk of developing Angina. The best way to achieve this is by eating a healthier well-balanced diet. You should cut out foods high in saturated fats such as
Cake and Biscuits
Eating a small amount of unsaturated fat helps keep your cholesterol level down and also helps the prevention of your arteries becoming blocked. Foods high in unsaturated fats are:
Nuts and Seeds
You should also cut down on salt and try to eat less than a teaspoon worth a day.
You can also help prevent the risk of Angina by stopping smoking. You can contact your local doctor and they should be able to refer you to the local NHS smoke free service or you can call the National Smokefree Helpline yourself on 03001231044 (nhs.uk 2015) where you would be given advice from experts and encouragement to quit.
Regular alcohol intake above the recommended unit level will raise blood pressure, by staying within the regular unit level you reduce the risk of getting high blood pressure. Men and women should not drink more than 14 units a week.
Being overweight makes your heart work harder to pump blood around the body which in turn again can cause high blood pressure, just by losing a few pounds can help make a difference to blood pressure and overall health and wellbeing.
Taking regular exercise and being active can help you lose weight and lower blood pressure. Low impact activities such as swimming, walking and cycling are recommended for people with Angina. More strenuous and physical activities such as playing football or running or weightlifting could trigger an attack.
Ray, S. and Keenan, J. (2016). Angina and Living Life to the Full. Birmingham: British Heart Foundation, p.5.
nhs.uk. (2015). Angina. online Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/angina/#why-angina-happens
Accessed 21 Dec. 2017.
Coburn, Ashley “The Circulatory System” Swap Access to Nursing, the Human Body, Moodle.21/12/2017