How the Cardiovascular System Works

cardiovascular disease, heart disease

Cardiovascular Disease

Thanks to online-only health sites, sites operated by the National Institutes of Health and those of our country's top hospitals, clinics and nonprofit heart-health organizations, high-quality information on common and rare cardiovascular diseases are only a quick surf away. Use the Cardiovascular Disease Web Guide to find links to sites with verified, credible information. 

Read a Spanish-language version of the Cardiovascular Disease Web Guide.

How the Cardiovascular System Works

The term "cardiovascular system" refers to the functioning of the heart (cardio) and the blood vessels (vascular). More specifically, it's the biological system responsible for circulating blood and oxygen throughout the body. Use the sites below to learn how the cardiovascular system works.

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  • Cardiovascular disease is an umbrella term used to define any disease that afflicts your cardiovascular system. According to the Mayo Clinic, cardiovascular diseases fall under two categories: diseases of the heart and diseases of the blood vessels.

Top Sites for How the Cardiovascular System Works

For general cardiovascular information …
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For the workings of the heart …
For more on blood …
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For an overview of cardiovascular disease …
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Heart Disease Types

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is responsible for 29 percent of deaths in the United States each year, making it the leading cause of death and a major cause of disability among Americans. Use the sites below to learn more about heart disease types, including hypertension, coronary artery disease, heart attack, angina, heart failure, arrhythmia and congenital heart disease.

Insights for Heart Disease Types

  • The Cleveland Clinic has been voted "America’s #1 Heart Center" by U.S. News and World Report for 12 straight years. The clinic's site reflects its authority by hosting some of the most comprehensive heart information on the Web. For that reason, we've provided links to its pages where fitting.

Top Sites for Heart Disease Types

For an overview of heart disease …
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For heart disease clinical trials …
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Vascular Disease Types

A vascular disease is any disease afflicting your circulatory system. According to the Cleveland Clinic, vascular disease types include diseases of the arteries, veins and lymph vessels along with blood disorders affecting circulation.

Insights for Vascular Disease Types

  • Examples of common vascular diseases are peripheral arterial disease, aneurysm, varicose veins, vasculitis, renovascular conditions and Raynaud's phenomenon.
  • For inquiries about vascular surgery, visit VascularWeb, a site operated by the Society for Vascular Surgery. For patients, there's extensive information on conditions, tests and treatments; a database for locating vascular specialists; and patient medical news.

Top Sites for Vascular Disease Types

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Cardiovascular Disease Diagnosis

If you or a loved one is suffering from a cardiovascular disease, you thankfully have the benefit of highly advanced and extremely effective diagnostic conditions for determining exactly what it is. Learn more about cardiovascular disease diagnosis with the sites below.

Insights for Cardiovascular Disease Diagnosis

  • WebMD's article, "Imaging the Heart: The New Frontier," discusses exciting technologies like CT scans, MRI, 3-dimensional echocardiography (3-D echo) and PET/CT that physicians are using to diagnose heart disease.
  • Don't attempt to diagnose your own disease. If you think you're at risk or are experiencing symptoms, see your physician.

Top Sites for Cardiovascular Disease Diagnosis

For an overview on diagnostic testing …
For echocardiography …
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For coronary angiogram …
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For magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) …
For magnetic resonance angiography …
For invasive tests …
For cardiac catheterization …
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Cardiovascular Disease Treatment

Heart and vascular conditions can be treated through a variety of methods including medication, surgery and transplants. Use the sites below to learn more about cardiovascular disease treatment options.

Insights for Cardiovascular Disease Treatment

  • PBS's NOVA Online has a feature on the heart with an interesting history of the pioneering figures in heart surgery.

Top Sites for Cardiovascular Disease Treatment

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Cardiovascular Disease Prevention

Two factors playing an important role in your heart disease risk are diet and exercise. Unlike genetics, both of these factors can be controlled if you're motivated and willing to make any necessary lifestyle changes. Use the sites in this section to learn more about cardiovascular disease prevention.

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Top Sites for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention

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For heart-healthy diet information …
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