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Definition

Cardiovascular disease - the heart of the matter

The heart is a pump which keeps blood moving around the body so it can deliver oxygen to the cells and remove carbon dioxide and other waste products.

The cardiovascular system contains about five litres of blood which is continuously circulating. Every day the heart beats around 100,000 times and pumps about 23,000 litres of blood.

A number of different diseases affect this system.

In coronary heart disease, a build up of fatty deposits effectively causes the coronary arteries to narrow. This narrowing and alteration of the vessel wall makes it harder for the artery to supply blood to the heart and over time can prevent blood getting through. The result is angina – the symptoms of which are pain or discomfort in the chest.

A heart attack occurs when a piece of the fatty deposit breaks away from the artery wall and causes a blood clot. If the clot blocks the artery, the heart muscle is starved of blood and oxygen.
 
Strokes are also caused by similar blockages but in this instance the blockages occur in the arteries in the neck that carry blood to the brain.

At Roche, our research into the molecular diagnostics of cardiovascular disease is continuing to develop our understanding of the disease and drive our research into new diagnostic solutions and treatment options.