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Welcome to the course

An introduction to Heart Health: a Beginner's Guide to Cardiovascular Disease and what to expect from the next four weeks in this free course.

Welcome to Week 1 of ‘Heart Health: A Beginner’s Guide to Cardiovascular Disease’. We’re very happy to have you on board and hope you’ll benefit from learning about the heart and how it works in various states of health.

This video will introduce you to the topics we’ll be covering over the next four weeks. If you’re new to FutureLearn, why not familiarise yourself with the How it works section.

Week 1 – Cardiovascular anatomy and physiology

We’ll start by exploring the anatomy and function of blood and the circulatory system. We will then look at the anatomy of the heart and how it works. There’s a practical exercise you can do at home which involves dissecting a lambs heart (you can purchase one from the butcher’s). If, however, you’re squeamish, we cover everything you need to know within the main teaching videos. We’ll also introduce the food and activity diary which we hope you will use throughout the course, as we will be comparing the data collected to UK statistics based on levels of risk of cardiovascular disease.

Week 2 – Angina, heart attacks and strokes

In the second week we’ll start to look at some of the problems that occur in the cardiovascular system. There’ll be a demonstration of blood clotting, and a home practical investigating the effects of thrombosis using jelly and balloons.

Week 3 – Heart failure, hypertension, valvular disease and arrhythmia

In Week 3, we’ll find out what happens to the heart when it has become weak and we’ll also look at other irregularities in the function of the heart. There’s also a practical exercise for you to try out at home to gain a better understanding of heart failure.

Week 4 – Risk, factors and prevention

Having learnt about what a healthy heart and a diseased heart is, in the final week we’ll take a look at the various factors that affect heart health, such as age, genes and cholesterol. We’ll also look at the benefits of a well balanced diet and physical activity for maintaining a healthy heart and look at how your food and activity diary can be used to keep track and understand patterns in your own life. We will also compare your collected data to that of UK statistics based on levels of risk of cardiovascular disease.

Before you get started, please consider this invitation to take part in a research study by the University of Reading:

University of Reading is carrying out research to review the effectiveness of our courses to provide the best possible experience for our learners. We take our teaching seriously and actively research the ways people learn and which methods are most effective.
We’d like to invite all Learners on the course to take part in an optional study, which will take place before and after. By taking part in this study, you’ll provide information regarding the learning gain and the usefulness of key activities in the course. We’ll use the findings to improve the course experience and the information may be fed to various teaching committees, teaching and learning workshops/presentations, and may contribute towards teaching and learning research publications.
Your responses are anonymous. All the information collected during this study, will be stored and handled according to University of Reading’s Privacy Notice.
Please note that this is an independent research survey carried out by University of Reading and your participation is subject to the University’s own policies and terms. FutureLearn takes no responsibility for the contents or the consequences of your participation in this study. Your participation in the research has no effect on your course progress, marks or FutureLearn profile.
To take part in the study, please click the button below. It should take no longer a few minutes to complete.
Take part in the study

Get extra benefits, upgrade your course

You can now get extra benefits by upgrading this course, including:

1. Unlimited access to the course

Go at your own pace with unlimited access to the course for as long as it exists on FutureLearn.

2. A Certificate of Achievement

To help you demonstrate your learning we’ll send you a Certificate of Achievement when you become eligible.

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Heart Health: A Beginner's Guide to Cardiovascular Disease

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