Health Topics

Blood heart and circulation

Congenital Heart Defects
National Library of Medicine
Heart Defects
Heart Diseases, Congenital
Heart Murmur

A congenital heart defect is a problem with the structure of the heart. It is present at birth. Congenital heart defects are the most common type of birth defect. The defects can involve the walls of the heart, the valves of the heart, and the arteries and veins near the heart. They can disrupt the normal flow of blood through the heart. The blood flow can slow down, go in the wrong direction or to the wrong place, or be blocked completely.

Doctors use a physical exam and special heart tests to diagnose congenital heart defects. They often find severe defects during pregnancy or soon after birth. Signs and symptoms of severe defects in newborns include

  • Rapid breathing
  • Cyanosis - a bluish tint to the skin, lips, and fingernails
  • Fatigue
  • Poor blood circulation

Many congenital heart defects cause few or no signs and symptoms. They are often not diagnosed until children are older.

Many children with congenital heart defects don't need treatment, but others do. Treatment can include medicines, catheter procedures, surgery, and heart transplants. The treatment depends on the type of the defect, how severe it is, and a child's age, size, and general health.

NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute


Heart Defects, Congenital
Blood, Heart and Circulation
Genetics/Birth Defects
... exam and special heart tests to diagnose congenital heart defects. They often ... Poor blood circulation Many congenital heart defects cause few or no ...
Blood Count Tests
National Library of Medicine
Blood Cells
Blood Tests
CBC
Complete Blood Count
Hematologic Tests

Your blood contains red blood cells (RBC), white blood cells (WBC), and platelets. Blood count tests measure the number and types of cells in your blood. This helps doctors check on your overall health. The tests can also help to diagnose diseases and conditions such as anemia, infections, clotting problems, blood cancers, and immune system disorders.

Specific types include tests for

  • RBC - the numbers, size, and types of RBC in the blood
  • WBC - the numbers and types of WBC in the blood
  • Platelets - the numbers and size of the platelets
  • Hemoglobin - an iron-rich protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen
  • Hematocrit - how much space red blood cells take up in your blood
  • Reticulocyte count - how many young red blood cells are in your blood
  • Mean corpuscular volume (MCV) - the average size of your red blood cells

The complete blood count (CBC) includes most or all of these. The CBC is one of the most common blood tests.

NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute


Blood Cell Count
Blood, Heart and Circulation
Your blood contains red blood cells (RBC), white blood cells (WBC), and platelets. Blood count tests measure the number and types of cells in your blood. This ...
High Blood Pressure
National Library of Medicine
Blood Pressure
Hypertension
Benign essential hypertension
Essential hypertension
HBP
HTN
What is blood pressure?

Blood pressure is the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your arteries. Each time your heart beats, it pumps blood into the arteries. Your blood pressure is highest when your heart beats, pumping the blood. This is called systolic pressure. When your heart is at rest, between beats, your blood pressure falls. This is called diastolic pressure.

Your blood pressure reading uses these two numbers. Usually the systolic number comes before or above the diastolic number. For example, 120/80 means a systolic of 120 and a diastolic of 80.

How is high blood pressure diagnosed?

High blood pressure usually has no symptoms. So the only way to find out if you have it is to get regular blood pressure checks from your health care provider. Your provider will use a gauge, a stethoscope or electronic sensor, and a blood pressure cuff. He or she will take two or more readings at separate appointments before making a diagnosis.

You have high blood pressure if your readings show that

  • Your systolic is 140 or higher OR
  • Your diastolic is 90 or higher

Some providers may consider you to have high blood pressure if you have other heart risk factors and

  • Your systolic is between 130 and 139 OR
  • Your diastolic is between 80 and 89

Blood pressure readings above 180 /120 are dangerously high and require immediate medical attention.

For children and teens, the health care provider compares the blood pressure reading to what is normal for other kids who are the same age, height, and gender.

What are the different types of high blood pressure?

There are two main types of high blood pressure: primary and secondary high blood pressure.

  • Primary, or essential, high blood pressure is the most common type of high blood pressure. For most people who get this kind of blood pressure, it develops over time as you get older.
  • Secondary high blood pressure is caused by another medical condition or use of certain medicines. It usually gets better after you treat that condition or stop taking the medicines that are causing it.
Why do I need to worry about high blood pressure?

When your blood pressure stays high over time, it causes the heart to pump harder and work overtime, possibly leading to serious health problems such as heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and kidney failure.

What are the treatments for high blood pressure?

Treatments for high blood pressure include heart-healthy lifestyle changes and medicines.

You will work with your provider to come up with a treatment plan. It may include only the lifestyle changes. These changes, such as heart-healthy eating and exercise, can be very effective. But sometimes the changes do not control or lower your high blood pressure. Then you may need to take medicine. There are different types of blood pressure medicines. Some people need to take more than one type.

If your high blood pressure is caused by another medical condition or medicine, treating that condition or stopping the medicine may lower your blood pressure.

NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute


Prehypertension
Hypertension
Older Adults
Blood, Heart and Circulation
What is blood pressure? Blood pressure is the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your arteries. Each time your heart beats, it pumps blood ...
Blood Disorders
National Library of Medicine
Hematologic Disorders
Hematologic diseases

Your blood is living tissue made up of liquid and solids. The liquid part, called plasma, is made of water, salts and protein. Over half of your blood is plasma. The solid part of your blood contains red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.

Blood disorders affect one or more parts of the blood and prevent your blood from doing its job. They can be acute or chronic. Many blood disorders are inherited. Other causes include other diseases, side effects of medicines, and a lack of certain nutrients in your diet.

Types of blood disorders include

  • Platelet disorders, excessive clotting, and bleeding problems, which affect how your blood clots
  • Anemia, which happens when your blood does not carry enough oxygen to the rest of your body
  • Cancers of the blood, such as leukemia and myeloma
  • Eosinophilic disorders, which are problems with one type of white blood cell.

Hematologic Diseases
Blood, Heart and Circulation
Your blood is living tissue made up of liquid and solids. The liquid part, called plasma, is made of water, salts and protein. Over half of your blood is ...
Blood
National Library of Medicine
ABO Blood Groups
Blood Cells

Your blood is made up of liquid and solids. The liquid part, called plasma, is made of water, salts, and protein. Over half of your blood is plasma. The solid part of your blood contains red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.

Red blood cells (RBC) deliver oxygen from your lungs to your tissues and organs. White blood cells (WBC) fight infection and are part of your immune system. Platelets help blood to clot when you have a cut or wound. Bone marrow, the spongy material inside your bones, makes new blood cells. Blood cells constantly die and your body makes new ones. Red blood cells live about 120 days, and platelets live about 6 days. Some white blood cells live less than a day, but others live much longer.

There are four blood types: A, B, AB, or O. Also, blood is either Rh-positive or Rh-negative. So if you have type A blood, it's either A positive or A negative. Which type you are is important if you need a blood transfusion. And your Rh factor could be important if you become pregnant - an incompatibility between your type and the baby's could create problems.

Blood tests such as blood count tests help doctors check for certain diseases and conditions. They also help check the function of your organs and show how well treatments are working. Problems with your blood may include bleeding disorders, excessive clotting and platelet disorders. If you lose too much blood, you may need a transfusion.

NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute


Blood
Blood, Heart and Circulation
Your blood is made up of liquid and solids. The liquid part, called plasma, is made of water, salts, and protein. Over half of your blood is plasma. The solid ...
How to Prevent High Blood Pressure
National Library of Medicine
High Blood Pressure Prevention
Lowering High Blood Pressure

About 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. has high blood pressure, or hypertension, but many don't realize it. High blood pressure usually has no warning signs, yet it can lead to life-threatening conditions like heart attack or stroke. The good news is that you can often prevent or treat high blood pressure. Early diagnosis and simple, healthy changes can keep high blood pressure from seriously damaging your health.

What is blood pressure?

Blood pressure is the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your arteries. Each time your heart beats, it pumps blood into the arteries. Your blood pressure is highest when your heart beats, pumping the blood. This is called systolic pressure. When your heart is at rest, between beats, your blood pressure falls. This is called diastolic pressure.

Your blood pressure reading uses these two numbers. Usually the systolic number comes before or above the diastolic number.

How do I know if my blood pressure is high?

High blood pressure usually has no symptoms. So the only way to find out if you have high blood pressure is to get regular blood pressure checks from your health care provider. Your provider will use a gauge, a stethoscope or electronic sensor, and a blood pressure cuff. For most adults, blood pressure readings will be in one of four categories:

Normal blood pressure means

  • Your systolic pressure is less than 120 AND
  • Your diastolic pressure is less than 80

Prehypertension means

  • Your systolic pressure is between 120-139 OR
  • Your diastolic pressure is between 80-89

Stage 1 high blood pressure means

  • Your systolic pressure is between 140-159 OR
  • Your diastolic pressure is between 90-99

Stage 2 high blood pressure means

  • Your systolic pressure is 160 or higher OR
  • Your diastolic pressure is 100 or higher

For children and teens, the health care provider compares the blood pressure reading to what is normal for other kids who are the same age, height, and gender.

People with diabetes or chronic kidney disease should keep their blood pressure below 130/80.

Why do I need to worry about prehypertension and high blood pressure?

Prehypertension means you're likely to end up with high blood pressure, unless you take steps to prevent it.

When your blood pressure stays high over time, it causes the heart to pump harder and work overtime, possibly leading to serious health problems such as heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and kidney failure.

What are the different types of high blood pressure?

There are two main types of high blood pressure: primary and secondary high blood pressure.

  • Primary, or essential, high blood pressure is the most common type of high blood pressure. For most people who get this kind of blood pressure, it develops over time as you get older.
  • Secondary high blood pressure is caused by another medical condition or use of certain medicines. It usually gets better after you treat the cause or stop taking the medicines that are causing it.
Who is at risk for high blood pressure?

Anyone can develop high blood pressure, but there are certain factors that can increase your risk:

  • Age - Blood pressure tends to rise with age
  • Race/Ethnicity - High blood pressure is more common in African American adults
  • Weight - People who are overweight or have obesity are more likely to develop prehypertension or high blood pressure
  • Gender - Before age 55, men are more likely than women to develop high blood pressure. After age 55, women are more likely than men to develop it.
  • Lifestyle - Certain lifestyle habits can raise your risk for high blood pressure, such as eating too much sodium or not enough potassium, lack of exercise, drinking too much alcohol, and smoking.
  • Family history - A family history of high blood pressure raises the risk of developing prehypertension or high blood pressure
How can I prevent high blood pressure?

You can help prevent high blood pressure by having a healthy lifestyle. This means

  • Eating a healthy diet. To help manage your blood pressure, you should limit the amount of sodium (salt) that you eat, and increase the amount of potassium in your diet. It is also important to eat foods that are lower in fat, as well as plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. The DASH diet is an example of an eating plan that can help you to lower your blood pressure.
  • Getting regular exercise. Exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your blood pressure. You should try to get moderate-intensity aerobic exercise at least 2 and a half hours per week, or vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise for 1 hour and 15 minutes per week. Aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, is any exercise in which your heart beats harder and you use more oxygen than usual.
  • Being at a healthy weight. Being overweight or having obesity increases your risk for high blood pressure. Maintaining a healthy weight can help you control high blood pressure and reduce your risk for other health problems.
  • Limiting alcohol. Drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure. It also adds extra calories, which may cause weight gain. Men should have no more than two drinks per day, and women only one.
  • Not smoking. Cigarette smoking raises your blood pressure and puts you at higher risk for heart attack and stroke. If you do not smoke, do not start. If you do smoke, talk to your health care provider for help in finding the best way for you to quit.
  • Managing stress. Learning how to relax and manage stress can improve your emotional and physical health and lower high blood pressure. Stress management techniques include exercising, listening to music, focusing on something calm or peaceful, and meditating.

If you already have high blood pressure, it is important to prevent it from getting worse or causing complications. You should get regular medical care and follow your prescribed treatment plan. Your plan will include healthy lifestyle habit recommendations and possibly medicines.

NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute


Hypertension
Blood, Heart and Circulation
About 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. has high blood pressure, or hypertension, but many don't realize it. High blood pressure usually has no warning signs, yet ...
Blood Clots
National Library of Medicine
Thrombophlebitis
Venous Thrombosis
Hypercoagulability

Normally, if you get hurt, your body forms a blood clot to stop the bleeding. After the bleeding stops and healing takes place, your body usually breaks down and removes the clot. But some people get too many clots or their blood clots abnormally. Many conditions can cause the blood to clot too much or prevent blood clots from dissolving properly.

Risk factors for excessive blood clotting include

  • Certain genetic disorders
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Diabetes
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Overweight, obesity, and metabolic syndrome
  • Some medicines
  • Smoking
  • Staying in one position for a long time, such as being in the hospital or taking a long car or plane ride
  • Cancer and cancer treatments
deep vein thrombosispulmonary embolismstrokeheart attackkidney problemskidney failureblood thinners
Thrombosis
Blood, Heart and Circulation
Normally, if you get hurt, your body forms a blood clot to stop the bleeding. After the bleeding stops and healing takes place, your body usually breaks down and ...
How to Prevent Heart Disease
National Library of Medicine
Heart Disease Prevention

Heart disease is the leading cause of the death in the United States. It is also a major cause of disability. There are many things that can raise your risk for heart disease. They are called risk factors. Some of them you cannot control, but there are many that you can control. Learning about them can lower your risk of heart disease.

What are the heart disease risk factors that I cannot change?
  • Age. Your risk of heart disease increases as you get older. Men age 45 and older and women age 55 and older have a greater risk.
  • Gender. Some risk factors may affect heart disease risk differently in women than in men. For example, estrogen provides women some protection against heart disease, but diabetes raises the risk of heart disease more in women than in men.
  • Race or ethnicity. Certain groups have higher risks than others. African Americans are more likely than whites to have heart disease, while Hispanic Americans are less likely to have it. Some Asian groups, such as East Asians, have lower rates, but South Asians have higher rates.
  • Family history. You have a greater risk if you have a close family member who had heart disease at an early age.
What can I do to lower my risk of heart disease?

Fortunately, there are many things you can do to reduce your chances of getting heart disease:

  • Control your blood pressure.High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease. It is important to get your blood pressure checked regularly - at least once a year for most adults, and more often if you have high blood pressure. Take steps, including lifestyle changes, to prevent or control high blood pressure.
  • Keep your cholesterol and triglyceride levels under control. High levels of cholesterol can clog your arteries and raise your risk of coronary artery disease and heart attack. Lifestyle changes and medicines (if needed) can lower your cholesterol. Triglycerides are another type of fat in the blood. High levels of triglycerides may also raise the risk of coronary artery disease, especially in women.
  • Stay at a healthy weight. Being overweight or having obesity can increase your risk for heart disease. This is mostly because they are linked to other heart disease risk factors, including high blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Controlling your weight can lower these risks.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Try to limit saturated fats, foods high in sodium, and added sugars. Eat plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. The DASH diet is an example of an eating plan that can help you to lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, two things that can lower your risk of heart disease.
  • Get regular exercise. Exercise has many benefits, including strengthening your heart and improving your circulation. It can also help you maintain a healthy weight and lower cholesterol and blood pressure. All of these can lower your risk of heart disease.
  • Limit alcohol. Drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure. It also adds extra calories, which may cause weight gain. Both of those raise your risk of heart disease. Men should have no more than two alcoholic drinks per day, and women should not have more than one.
  • Don't smoke. Cigarette smoking raises your blood pressure and puts you at higher risk for heart attack and stroke. If you do not smoke, do not start. If you do smoke, quitting will lower your risk for heart disease. You can talk with your health care provider for help in finding the best way for you to quit.
  • Manage stress.Stress is linked to heart disease in many ways. It can raise your blood pressure. Extreme stress can be a "trigger" for a heart attack. Also, some common ways of coping with stress, such as overeating, heavy drinking, and smoking, are bad for your heart. Some ways to help manage your stress include exercise, listening to music, focusing on something calm or peaceful, and meditating.
  • Manage diabetes. Having diabetes doubles your risk of diabetic heart disease. That is because over time, high blood sugar from diabetes can damage your blood vessels and the nerves that control your heart and blood vessels. So, it is important to get tested for diabetes, and if you have it, to keep it under control.
  • Make sure that you get enough sleep. If you don't get enough sleep, you raise your risk of high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes. Those three things can raise your risk for heart disease. Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Make sure that you have good sleep habits. If you have frequent sleep problems, contact your health care provider. One problem, sleep apnea, causes people to briefly stop breathing many times during sleep. This interferes with your ability to get a good rest and can raise your risk of heart disease. If you think you might have it, ask your doctor about having a sleep study. And if you do have sleep apnea, make sure that you get treatment for it.

Heart Diseases
Blood, Heart and Circulation
Wellness and Lifestyle
... plan that can help you to lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, two things that can lower your risk of heart disease. Get regular exercise. Exercise has many benefits, including strengthening your heart and improving your circulation. It can also help you maintain a healthy ...
Blood Transfusion and Donation
National Library of Medicine
Blood Donation
Transfusion

Every year, millions of people in the United States receive life-saving blood transfusions. During a transfusion, you receive whole blood or parts of blood such as

  • Red blood cells - cells that carry oxygen to and from tissues and organs
  • Platelets - cells that form clots to control bleeding
  • Plasma - the liquid part of the blood that helps clotting. You may need it if you have been badly burned, have liver failure or a severe infection.

Most blood transfusions go very smoothly. Some infectious agents, such as HIV, can survive in blood and infect the person receiving the blood transfusion. To keep blood safe, blood banks carefully screen donated blood. The risk of catching a virus from a blood transfusion is low.

Sometimes it is possible to have a transfusion of your own blood. During surgery, you may need a blood transfusion because of blood loss. If you are having a surgery that you're able to schedule months in advance, your doctor may ask whether you would like to use your own blood, instead of donated blood. If so, you will need to have blood drawn one or more times before the surgery. A blood bank will store your blood for your use.

NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute


Blood Transfusion
Blood Safety
Blood Donors
Transfusion Reaction
Blood, Heart and Circulation
Transplantation and Donation
Every year, millions of people in the United States receive life-saving blood transfusions. During a transfusion, you receive whole blood or parts of blood ...
Hemophilia
National Library of Medicine
Blood Coagulation Disorders
Christmas disease
Factor IX deficiency
Factor VIII deficiency

Hemophilia is a rare disorder in which the blood does not clot normally. It is usually inherited. Hemophilia usually occurs in males.

If you have hemophilia, you have little or no clotting factor. Clotting factor is a protein needed for normal blood clotting. Without it, you may bleed for a long time after an injury or accident. You also may bleed into your knees, ankles, and elbows. Bleeding in the joints causes pain and, if not treated, can lead to arthritis. Bleeding in the brain, a very serious complication of hemophilia, requires emergency treatment.

The main symptoms of hemophilia are excessive bleeding and easy bruising. Blood tests can tell if you have it. The main treatment is injecting the missing clotting factor into the bloodstream. You may need it on a regular basis, or just when bleeding occurs.

NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute


Hemophilia A
Blood, Heart and Circulation
Genetics/Birth Defects
Hemophilia is a rare disorder in which the blood does not clot normally. It is usually inherited. Hemophilia usually occurs in males. If you have hemophilia, you ...