• University of Reading

Heart Health: A Beginner's Guide to Cardiovascular Disease

Learn more about how your heart works, the causes of heart disease and how to keep your heart healthy.

Heart Health: A Beginner's Guide to Cardiovascular Disease
  • Duration4 weeks
  • Weekly study3 hours
  • LearnFree
  • Extra BenefitsFrom $69Find out more

Understand cardiovascular disease and learn how to keep your heart healthy

Your heart beats around 100,000 times a day, pumping blood around your body to deliver oxygen and nutrients, while taking away waste products. When your heart is unhealthy, it can’t perform this vital task so effectively.

This course will improve your knowledge of how the heart works, the causes of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure and heart failure and what you can do to avoid them.

You’ll cover both theory and practical aspects of heart health, learning from lab demonstrations and practical activities so you better understand your own heart.

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What topics will you cover?

Week 1:

  • Introduction to the structure and function of the cardiovascular system, consisting of the circulatory system and the heart as a pump
  • The circulatory system – including the different blood vessels, the blood cells and plasma
  • The structure of the heart – including its four chambers, the major blood vessels that enter and exit the heart, the smaller blood vessels that supply the heart muscle with vital blood and oxygen and the heart valves that regulate the flow of blood through the heart
  • The cardiac cycle and how this relates to an ECG (electro cardiogram) Investigation of the structure of the heart through a hands-on practical activity

Week 2:

  • Introduction to the process of atherosclerosis
  • What is angina?
  • Introduction to haemostasis and thrombosis
  • What is a heart attack?
  • What is a stroke?
  • Investigation of the effects of thrombosis through a hands-on practical activity

Week 3:

  • What is heart failure?
  • What is hypertension?
  • What is valvular disease?
  • What are arrhythmias?
  • Investigation of the effects of heart failure through a hands-on practical activity

Week 4:

  • Non-modifiable risk factors for cardiovascular disease including age, gender and genetics
  • Modifiable risk factors for cardiovascular disease including smoking, stress, cholesterol, obesity, diet, and physical activity
  • Lifestyle choices that can be made to try and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Calculating the risk of cardiovascular disease with the QRisk Cardiovascular * Disease Risk Calculator
  • Investigation of one’s own life style choices

When would you like to start?

Most FutureLearn courses run multiple times. Every run of a course has a set start date but you can join it and work through it after it starts. Find out more

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Describe the structure and function of the cardiovascular system, including the circulatory system and heart
  • Describe the basis of several cardiovascular diseases including heart attacks, strokes, hypertension and heart failure
  • Evaluate the various risk factors that can contribute towards increasing a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Discuss some of the lifestyle choices that we can make to try and reduce our risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Apply theoretical knowledge and investigate a topic through practical activities
  • Investigate and process data
  • Investigate a topic and evaluate the reliability of your sources

Who is the course for?

This course is aimed at anyone with an interest in how the heart works and the diseases that commonly affect it. It will help if you have a basic understanding of human biology, but we’ll explain things in a way that will be easy for those who are unfamiliar with the subject. If you get stuck, you can always ask questions in the comments and other learners may be able to help you.

Healthcare practitioners may also enjoy this as a gentle refresher or resource to share with patients.

Who will you learn with?

I am a lecturer in cardiovascular biology and haematology at the University of Reading and the lead educator for Heart Health: A Beginner’s Guide to Cardiovascular Disease.

Who developed the course?

University of Reading

The University of Reading has a reputation for excellence in teaching, research and enterprise.

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