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University of Reading

Heart Health: A Beginner's Guide to Cardiovascular Disease

University of Reading via FutureLearn


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.

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.


  • Cardiovascular anatomy and physiology
    • Welcome to Week 1
    • Blood and the circulatory system
    • Anatomy and function of the heart
    • Behind the scenes
    • Starting a food and activity diary
    • Review and Reflect
  • Angina, heart attacks and strokes
    • Welcome to Week 2
    • Atherosclerosis and angina
    • Haemostasis and thrombosis
    • How blood clots
    • Heart attacks and strokes
    • Research, evaluate and share
    • Behind the scenes
    • Review and Reflect
  • Heart failure, hypertension, valvular disease and arrhythmias
    • Welcome to Week 3
    • Heart failure
    • Hypertension, valvular disease and arrythmias
    • Research, evaluate and share
    • Behind the scenes
    • The British Heart Foundation Educational Videos
    • Review and Reflect
  • Risk factors and prevention
    • Welcome to Week 4
    • Non-modifiable and semi-modifiable risk factors
    • Modifiable risk factors
    • Lifestyle modifications - diet
    • Lifestyle modifications - physical activity
    • Research, evaluate and share
    • Behind the scenes
    • Review and Reflect

Taught by

Natasha Barrett


4.5 rating, based on 8 Class Central reviews

4.9 rating at FutureLearn based on 103 ratings

Start your review of Heart Health: A Beginner's Guide to Cardiovascular Disease

  • The course was well-designed, with a good variety of presentation and interesting practicals. I learnt a lot and would recommend it to others wanting to understand the heart and what can go wrong with it. Very good involvement by the educators and mentors.
  • Anonymous
    Hi everyone completed heart health beginner guide course three years ago and trust me implement this course guideline in my daily routine practice at my workplace and give my best afford.I am very gladeful to my course instructor who provide me duly sign certificate and encourage me forever.

    With regard

    Mukund lal

  • Kishan Vasekar
    Good for beginners.May be comparison with pump will help.We can also add few more amazing facts about heart including its own brain like centre.
  • Anonymous
    great program if you want to know more about the heart or an excellent refresher on the disection of the heart!
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    Riana Muhammad
  • Aurora Xu
  • Lori Buchanan

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