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How does the heart work?

The heart has two upper chambers are called the atria and two lower chambers called the ventricles. The atria receive blood returning to the heart and then push it downward to the ventricles which give departing blood a push outward towards its destination.

The heart has two pumps - the right side receives deoxygenated blood from the body and pumps blood to the lungs to pick up oxygen; the much stronger left ventricle takes oxygenated blood coming back from the lungs and circulates it to the rest of the body. Blood flows through the body in an endless figure eight loop.

What is blood pressure?

Blood pressure is the pressure of the blood in the arteries as the heart pumps it around the body. Blood pressure is recorded as two numbers-the larger number indicates the pressure in the arteries as the heart squeezes out blood during each beat and the lower number indicates the pressure as the heart relaxes before the next beat.

High blood pressure can cause serious problems and may not have warning signs. The only way to find out if your blood pressure is high is to have it checked regularly.

What is angina?

Angina is a pain, tight feeling, heaviness, pressure or burning sensation usually felt across the chest. It may radiate to the arms, back, neck or jaw. It commonly occurs with exercise or emotional upset and resolves with rest. The main cause of angina is narrowing of the coronary arteries, reducing blood supply and oxygen to the heart muscle.

What is atrial fibrillation?

Atrial Fibrillation (AF), or Arrhythmia is a common cardiac rhythm condition that is seen increasingly with age. The normal electrical trigger for the heart beat in the top chambers (atria) of the heart becomes disrupted by rapid, erratic electrical signals that result in a quivering motion of the top chambers rather than the regular pumping action.

To read more please visit Atrial Fibrillation Centre of Excellence or your local Genesis HeartCare practice.

How is a stroke caused?

A stroke is a condition in which brain cells suddenly die because of a lack of oxygen. This can be caused by an obstruction in blood flow, such as a blood clot, or the rupture of an artery that feeds the brain.
Several characteristics seem to increase a person's risk of having a stroke, including:

  • History of high blood pressure, even when treated
  • Diabetes
  • Increasing age (in particular those over 75 years old)
  • Having heart failure or weakened heart pump function
  • A history of a prior stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA)

In general, the more risk factors, the higher the risk of stroke. The risk of having a stroke each year varies from around 1% for people with no risk factors, through to about 17% for a person with all of the risk factors.

To read more please visit one of our heart care websites

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GenesisCare is largest provider of radiation oncology in Australia, the UK and Spain, and also the leading provider of cardiology and sleep treatments in Australia. We exist to fill the treatment gap for the biggest disease burdens – cancer and heart disease – in an environment of substantial unmet demand from an ageing population. Click here to learn more