Common Pathologies Of The Cardio Vascular System Part 2

Published on 23rd January 2020



Septicaemia is a term used to describe blood poisoning.  

It occurs when a bacterial infection elsewhere in the body, such as the lungs or skin, enters the bloodstream. It can quickly become life threatening and if untreated can progress to sepsis (causing inflammation and blood clots throughout the body, blocking oxygen from reaching vital organs, resulting in organ failure).

Septicaemia can be caused by urinary tract infections, lung infections (such as pneumonia), kidney infections or infections in the abdominal area.

Symptoms can include chills, fever, breathing very fast or rapid heart rate, confusion or inability to think clearly, nausea and vomiting, red dots appearing on the skin, reduced urine volume, inadequate blood flow and shock.

Cardiac arrhythmia, Tachycardia, Bradycardia

Arrhythmia is an abnormal heart rhythm.

Atrial fibrillation is the most common type, where the heart beats irregularly and faster than normal.

Supraventricular tachycardia  are episodes of an abnormally fast heart rate whilst at rest.

Bradycardia this is when the heart beats more slowly than normal. 

Drinking alcohol in excess or being overweight increases the likelihood of developing atrial fibrillation.

Common causes for arrhythmia are viral illnesses, alcohol, tobacco, change in posture, exercise, caffeine, illegal recreational drugs and certain over-the-counter and prescribed medicines.

Cardiac failure

The heart is unable to pump blood around the body properly and  usually occurs when the muscle of the heart has become too weak or stiff.

Symptoms are breathlessness after activity or rest, feeling tired most of the time and finding exercise exhausting, swollen ankles and legs, persistent cough, a fast heart rate and dizziness.

Epistaxis (nosebleeds)

Bleeding form the nasal cavity.  The nasal mucosa contains a rich blood supply that can be easily ruptured and cause bleeding. Rupture may be spontaneous or initiated by trauma. It is usually noticed when blood drains out through the nostrils though in more serve cases, the blood can come up through the nasolacrimal duct and out from the eye.

Fresh blood can also flow down into the stomach and cause nausea and vomiting.

Some rarer causes are coagulopathy, dietary, inflammatory, medications/drugs, neoplastic, traumatic, and vascular malformation.


When there is a lack of oxygen-rich blood to tissue  such as muscle it causes that tissue to die often the hands or feet. This can lead to amputation of a limb or death and requires urgent treatment to halt the spread of tissue death.

Diabetes is a major cause of  gangrene – diabetic neuropathy (nerve death) can mean that a person has an injury and does not notice it as are burns and frostbite.

Gangrene is usually external, affecting the extremities but it can also affect internal tissues.

Heart disease

Coronary heart disease is the term that describes what happens when the heart blood supply is blocked or interrupted by a build-up of fatty substances (usually cholesterol)  in the coronary arteries (atherosclerosis).

This can be caused by smoking, high cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes.

Coronary heart disease can not be cured but treatment can manage symptoms and reduce the risk of heart attacks.

The most common symptom is chest pain (angina) but other symptoms such as heart palpitations and usual breathlessness can occur.

Hole in the heart (septal defects)

There are two types;

1/A ventricular septal defect is an abnormal opening (hole) in the heart that forms between the heart’s lower pumping chambers (ventricles). This allows oxygen-rich and oxygen-poor blood to mix.

2/An atrial septal defect is a birth (congenital) defect of the heart in which there is a hole in the wall (septum) that divides the upper chambers (aria) of the heart.  The hole increases the amount of blood that flows through the lungs and over time, it may cause damage to the blood vessels in the lungs – leading to high blood pressure in the lungs, heart failure, abnormal heartbeat and increased risk of stroke.


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