Common Pathologies of the Cardio Vascular System Part 3

Published on 29th January 2020


Intermittent claudication

Muscle pain during mild exertion (ache, cramp numbness or sense of fatigue) – usually in the calf muscle and usually associated with early-stage peripheral artery disease.

Signs and symptoms include loss of hair, shiny skin. Decreased temperature, decreased pulse and redness when limb is return to a ‘dependent’ position.

Myocardial infarction

Also known as a heart attack – occurs when blood flow decreases or stops to a part of the heart, causing damage (cell death) to the heart muscle.

It may cause heart failure, an irregular heartbeat, cardiogenic shock or cardiac arrest.

The most common symptom is chest pain or discomfort which may travel into the shoulder, arm, back neck or jaw.

Other symptoms may include shortness of breath, nausea, feeling faint, a cold sweat or feeling tired.  Women more often do not experience chest pain.


An abnormality of the heartbeat which can be induced by stress.

Symptoms include a rapid pulsation, an abnormally rapid or irregular beating of the heart – often caused by premature contraction of the atrium or ventricle.

Palpitation associated with light-headedness, fainting or near fainting suggest low blood pressure and may signify a left threatening abnormal heart rhythm.

Pulmonary embolism

A blockage of an artery in the lungs by a substance that has moved from elsewhere in the body through the bloodstream.  It usually results from a blood clots in the leg that travels to the lung (See deep vein thrombosis).

Symptoms can include pain in the chest or upper back, difficulty breathing, coughing up blood, pain, redness and swelling in one leg.

Signs can include low blood oxygen levels, rapid breathing, rapid heart rate and sometimes a mild fever.

Raynaud’s disease

It is usually triggered by cold temperatures, anxiety or stress. 

Blood vessels go into a temporary spasm which blocks the flow of blood. This causes the affected area to change colour to white, then blue and then red as the blood flow returns. Other symptoms include numbness, pain and pins and needles.

Sickle cell anaemia

Particularly common in people with an African or Caribbean family background.

Production of unusually shaped red blood cells that can cause problems because they do not live as long as healthy blood cells and can block blood vessels.

Symptoms include painful episodes called asickle cell crises which can be very severe and last up to a week, and increased risk of serious infections, anaemia which can cause tiredness and shortness of breath.  It can also cause delayed growth, strokes and lung problems.


Group of inherited faulty genes that affect the production of haemoglobin with either no or too little haemoglobin, which is used by red blood cells to carry oxygen around the body.  This can cause anaemia or too much iron in the blood, delayed growth, weak and fragile bones and reduced fertility.

Varicose ulcers

The loss of skin surface in the drainage area of a varicose vein, usually in the leg, resulting from lack of movement and infection.

The blood doesn’t flow from the lower leg back to the heart as it should do, this causes a build up of pressure in the vein which can lead to an ulceration on the skin.

Symptoms may include burning or itching, red with yellowish skin over them. An infected ulcer may leak yellow or green fluid.


View all messages

Anatomy and physiology online courses - Free e-book
Free e-book

10 Top Study Tips to Help You Pass Your Anatomy and Physiology Exam

Anatomy and physiology online courses - free trial
Free Trial

No Commitment.
No hidden fees.
No credit card required.

Start Today


"I'll be sad when this anatomy and physiology course is over if I'm honest, I'm loving it!"

- Sally Hansen -

Newsletter Signup

Anatomy & physiology courses online - refund policy


ITEC Level 3 certificate in Anatomy, Physiology and Pathology
British Register of Complementary Practitioners
Association Systematic Kinesiology
BowenTraining UK

Get in Touch

GM Tree Training Ltd
5 Clumber Drive
Somerset BA11 2LG
United Kingdom
T: +44 (0)7392 745790

Contact us

Secure transactions

Powered by WordPay

Mastercard Visa American Express Maestro JCB

This website uses cookies in order to help provide the best experience for our users. Find out more.

OK, I'm good with that