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Online course

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 with this free online course

Heart Health: A Beginner's Guide to Cardiovascular Disease

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.

Each week you’ll be able to get hands on with a practical activity, helping you to apply the knowledge you’ll gain on the course, to 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?

Who is the course for?

This beginner’s 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?

Natasha Barrett

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?

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

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Join this course

Free
$0

  • Access to this course for 6 weeks
  • Includes any articles, videos, peer reviews and quizzes

Upgrade
$74

  • Unlimited access to this course
  • Includes any articles, videos, peer reviews and quizzes
  • Certificate of Achievement to prove your success when you're eligible
  • Download and print your Certificate of Achievement anytime
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