Heart Disease Research Essay Rubric

The Scripps Research Institute undertakes basic biomedical research, primarily in laboratory settings, to learn how the human body operates on all levels. Our discoveries are often licensed to biotechnology or pharmaceutical firms for further development toward a drug or treatment. As a nonprofit biomedical research institute, we do not see patients and rarely conduct clinical trials; for the latest information on clinical trials throughout the United States, visit www.clinicaltrials.gov . For information on specific diseases, search for associations or organizations dedicated to the disease, for example, the American Heart Association or the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

What is Heart Disease?

The term “heart disease” describes a range of diseases affecting the heart and blood vessels, including coronary heart disease, heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias), and heart defects.

Coronary heart disease —also known as coronary artery disease—is the most common type of heart disease in the United States, striking more than 15 million people, according to the American Heart Association. Coronary artery disease is also the leading killer of men and women. It is an expensive disease; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that, in 2010, heart disease will cost the United States $316.4 billion in health care services, medications, and lost productivity.

Coronary artery disease happens slowly over time in a process called atherosclerosis. Coronary arteries that supply the heart muscle can become narrow and hard from a buildup of plaque – a combination of fat, cholesterol, and other substances. As coronary arteries narrow, blood flow to the heart can slow down or stop, causing chest pain, shortness of breath, heart attack, or other symptoms.

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Risk Factors

Many factors raise the risk of developing coronary artery disease ; the more risk factors an individual possesses, the greater the chance of developing heart disease. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute lists the following conditions as risk factors:

  • Unhealthy blood cholesterol levels
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Overweight or obesity
  • Metabolic syndrome (a group of risk factors linked to obesity and overweight)
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Age
  • Family history of early heart disease

Other factors that also may contribute to coronary artery disease include stress, alcohol, and sleep apnea.

While many believe coronary artery disease is primarily a man’s disease, in fact, it is the number-one cause of death and the leading cause of disability among women in the United States.

Lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet, reducing weight, easing stress levels, stopping smoking, and increasing physical activity can help decrease the risk of developing heart disease. Medications used to treat coronary artery disease include anticoagulants, aspirin and other antiplatelet medicines, ACE inhibitors, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, nitroglycerin, statins, and supplements high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish oil.

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Recent Research and News on Heart Disease at The Scripps Research Institute

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Links to General Heart Disease Information

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Essay/Term paper: Cardiovascular disease

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Cardiovascular diseases include a wide range of heart abnormalities, as well as diseases of other parts of the circulatory system, such as the coronary arteries, ther cerebrovascular system, the aorta and pulmonary vessels, and the peripheral arteries and veins. Abnormalities of these structures may be either congenital or acquired over time.

It has been said that cardiovascular disease kills about 954,000 people annually, including more than 156,000 people under the age of sixty-five years. "Between 1980 and 1993 the death rate for cardiovascular disease declined steadily because of improved medical treatments and healthier lifestyles." (1999 Multimedia Encyclopedia). Unfortunately, cardiovascular disease remains a increase, gbut this increase is mainly related to death from congestive heart failure and may reflect the aging of the American population. It also may reflect the fact that modern medicine allows some patients to survive otherwise fatal cardiovascular diseases only to die later of other related problems.

There is one form of cardiovascular diseases, coronary heart disease, this form of CVD, is also known as coronary artery disease. This results from a buildup of cholesterol and other substances within the arteries that supply the blood to the heart. This buildup is known as plaque, or atheroclerotic material. So in time the arteries become narrowed until blood can no longer flwo normally. The decrease in flow is known as ischemia, and it causes angina pectoris, or chest pain. If the blood flow becomes totally blocked due to a blood clot, the affected portion of the heart muscle will die. This is called a heart attack, or myocardial infarction. The symptom is a severe, crushing chest pain that may radiate to the arms, neck, or jaw. A mild attack the symptoms may resembel indigestion or heartburn.

Both coronary artery disease and cardiovascular disorders can lead to congestive heart failure. This is where the heart is unable to pump all of the blood and the blood backs up and collects in various tissues, including the lungs. Even though the heart continues to work, it is severely impaired. This condition can usually be treated with drugs or surgery. If this treatment fails a heart transplant is sometimes an option.

There are many ways to prevent cardiovascular disease, researchers say a number of risk factors that contribute to the disease. These include increasing age, male gender, a family history, high blood pressure, and high blood cholesterol levels. Changes one can make in the lifestyle they lead is diet, cigarette smoking, and lack of exercise. Some other factors include diabetes, obesity, and stress. Thers factors can be altered by behavioral changes. Cigarette smoking contributes to twenty percent of cardiovascular deaths, stopping smoking is extremely important in preventing the disease. Also regualr physical activity and a low-fat diet can reduce the risk.


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