New search
download case
  • Overview
  • Teaching Notes
  • Answer Key
  • Supplemental Materials
  • Videos
  • Comments/Replies

The Heart of the Problem

From Heart Attack to Kidney Failure

Co Authors:

Kristine A. Garner
Department of Biological Sciences
University of Arkansas at Fort Smith

Brandy C. Ree
Department of Biological Sciences
University of Arkansas at Fort Smith


This interrupted case study was developed for an undergraduate class in human cardiac physiology. The story follows a patient whose heart attack damaged a papillary muscle in the left ventricle of the heart. This caused valve dysfunction and mitral valve regurgitation resulting in left-sided heart failure, which in turn led to systemic problems including pulmonary edema and kidney failure. This case study was designed to follow a chapter or unit covering the heart and/or the cardiovascular system, and would be appropriate for any undergraduate human anatomy and physiology course or for nursing students. Before beginning the activity, students should know the anatomy of the heart, understand the function of the heart valves and blood flow through the heart, be able to calculate cardiac output, and understand the implications of blood pressure on capillary filtration. This case study was written specifically for students who have not yet covered the respiratory system or the urinary system.

  • Describe the structure and function of the heart.
  • Describe the direction of blood flow in the heart.
  • State the function of heart valves.
  • Relate cardiac output to blood pressure.
  • Link pressure dynamics to blood flow in the body.
  • Explain how blood pressure is related to capillary filtration.
  • Correlate the functions of the cardiovascular system to the pulmonary and urinary systems.
Keywords: Heart failure; mitral valve prolapse; blood pressure; blood flow; cardiac output; capillary filtration;
Topical Area: N/A
Educational Level: Undergraduate lower division, Clinical education
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Discussion, Interrupted
Language: English
Subject Headings: Physiology   Nursing  
Date Posted: 12/8/2015
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

Teaching Notes

Case teaching notes are password-protected and access to them is limited to paid subscribed instructors. To become a paid subscriber, begin the process by registering here.

Teaching notes are intended to help teachers select and adopt a case. They typically include a summary of the case, teaching objectives, information about the intended audience, details about how the case may be taught, and a list of references and resources.

  Download Teaching Notes

Answer Key

Answer keys for the cases in our collection are password-protected and access to them is limited to paid subscribed instructors. To become a paid subscriber, begin the process by registering here.

  Get Answer Key

Supplemental Materials

The supplemental material below is recommended for use with this case study.

  Cardiology Virtual Lab hhmi/
In this virtual lab, students take on the role of an intern accompanying a doctor who is examining three different patients. Each patient is examined using more than one diagnostic tool. At each stage, the doctor invites the student to examine the patient and asks for the student's opinion.


The following video(s) are recommended for use in association with this case study.

  Heart Function hhmi/
Short animation showing the movement of blood through the heart. Runnung time: 0:33 min. Produced by HHMI BioInteractive.

  How a Heart Attack Occurs hhmi/
Short 3-D animation that shows how plaques form in a blood vessel, leading to blockage and a heart attack. Running time: 037 min. Produced by HHMI BioInteractive.

  Heart Attack and Blocked Arteries hhmi/
This short video clip makes use of a model of a heart and an artery to describe how blockages lead to heart attack and tissue damage. Running time: 3:59 min. Produced by HHMI BioInteractive.

This was a well-designed case study for my 200-level human physiology class. It took minimal tweaking to adapt to my needs, and it served as an effective transition from the CV system we just completed and into the respiratory and renal system topics we will be covering next.

Kyle Hetrick
Life & Physical Science
Ivy Tech Community College
Bloomington, IN

City State:
security code
Enter Security Code: