• 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.

64,661 enrolled on this course

The heart

Heart Health: A Beginner's Guide to Cardiovascular Disease

64,661 enrolled on this course

  • 4 weeks

  • 3 hours per week

  • Digital certificate when eligible

  • Open level

Find out more about how to join this course

  • Duration

    4 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours
  • 100% online

    How it works
  • Unlimited subscription

    $189.99 for one yearLearn 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.

Download video: standard or HD

Skip to 0 minutes and 2 seconds My name is Dr. Natasha Barrett, and I’m a lecturer at the University of Reading

Skip to 0 minutes and 5 seconds and also the lead educator for Heart Health: A Beginner’s Guide to Cardiovascular Disease. It’s likely that you know someone who’s been affected by cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular biology is an important area of research at the University of Reading, and we’re lucky to have many experts in the field. As such, this gives you a taster of what it would be like to study at Reading. So by the end of this course, you should have developed a better understanding of the structure and function of the cardiovascular system, an understanding of the basis of several cardiovascular diseases, including heart attacks, strokes, heart failure, and hypertension.

Skip to 0 minutes and 43 seconds You’ll also gain several skills, such as the ability to apply theoretical knowledge in practical situations, the ability to analyse and process data, the ability to research a topic and question the reliability of your sources. And, of course, you’ll develop communication skills through sharing your ideas and discussing them with others. Practical work aims to apply the theory that you’ve already learnt. And this helps deepen your level of understanding. I hope that you enjoy both this course and finding out about cardiovascular research at the University of Reading.

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?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

Learning on this course

If you'd like to take part while our educators are leading the course, they'll be joining the discussions, in the comments, between these dates:

  • 30 Jan 2023 - 26 Mar 2023

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

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.

Ways to learn

Buy this course

Subscribe & save

Limited access

Choose the best way to learn for you!

$69/one-off payment

$189.99

for one year

Automatically renews

Free

Fulfill your current learning needDevelop skills to further your careerSample the course materials
Access to this courseticktick

Access expires 27 Feb 2023

Access to 1,000+ coursescrosstickcross
Learn at your own paceticktickcross
Discuss your learning in commentstickticktick
Certificate when you're eligiblePrinted and digitalDigital onlycross
Continue & Upgrade

Cancel for free anytime

Ways to learn

Choose the best way to learn for you!

Subscribe & save

$189.99 for one year

Automatically renews

Develop skills to further your career

  • Access to this course
  • Access to 1,000+ courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Cancel for free anytime

Buy this course

$69/one-off payment

Fulfill your current learning need

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Limited access

Free

Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 27 Feb 2023

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

Sale price available until 28 February 2023 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply.

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

Sale price available until 28 February 2023 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply.

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

Want to know more about learning on FutureLearn? Using FutureLearn

Learner reviews

Learner reviews cannot be loaded due to your cookie settings. Please and refresh the page to view this content.

Get a taste of this course

Find out what this course is like by previewing some of the course steps before you join:

Do you know someone who'd love this course? Tell them about it...

You can use the hashtag #FLhearthealth to talk about this course on social media.