Specialist Language Courses

Lesson Plan: Describing Cardiovascular Conditions

The following material is a lesson plan where students learn language related to the heart and cardiovascular conditions. They then use that language to write a patient leaflet. Full downloadable plan and student worksheet available for free at the bottom of the page.

Teaching Notes

Note: these teaching notes accompany the student worksheet, downloadable at the bottom of the page.

Topic: describing cardiovascular conditions

Timing: 45 minutes

Lesson type/focus: reading and writing


Reading: develop language associated with the heart.

Vocabulary: develop language needed to describe cardiovascular conditions.

Writing: consolidate and extend language use through writing.


The focus of the lesson is describing cardiovascular conditions. The speaking activity introduces the topic and gives students the opportunities to share their current knowledge and vocabulary on the topic. The reading activity and subsequent activity develop students' vocabulary on the heart and associated cardiovascular conditions. The writing activity allows the students to put the vocabulary into practice and describe heart attacks using language appropriate for a patient.

Note: This lesson uses material from SLC's course, 'English for Doctors: Advanced Communication Skills'.


Part 1: speaking

Put students into small groups and ask them to discuss questions 1 – 3. Choose a spokesperson from each group to report back the answers. After whole class feedback, students read the link below to compare their answers.


Suggested answers

  1. What are the risk factors for increasing the possibility of a heart attack? High blood pressure, inactivity, smoking, high cholesterol, diabetes, family history of CVD (cardiovascular disease), gender, ethnic background, age, gender, diet, alcohol.
  2. What are the symptoms of a heart attack? Pressure, tightness, pain in chest, which may spread to neck, jaw or back. Nausea, indigestion, heart pain or stomach pain, shortness of breath, cold sweat, fatigue, dizziness.
  3. What advice would you give to patients to prevent a heart attack? Cessation of smoking, reduce weight, healthy diet, regular exercise, regular monitoring, reduce alcohol, take medication if applicable.


Part 2: reading

Put students in pairs. Ask them to read the text and choose the correct answer from the two options given. Whole class feedback.


1. organ

2. pump

3. chambers

4. flows

5. lungs

6. oxygen

7. Valves

8. relax

9. fill

10. hard

11. contract

12. away

13. arterioles

14. capillaries

15. tissues

16. thin

17. lower


Part 3: vocabulary

Students continue to work in pairs and complete the sentences with a word from the box. Students compare ideas with another pair.


1. endocarditis

2. thrombosis

3. electrocardiogram

4. phlebotomist

5. vasoconstriction

6. muscular layer

7. pericardial

8. myocardial infarction


Part 4: writing

Put students in pairs or small groups and write a patient information leaflet about heart attacks. Stage the task and support students as needed.

Make sure they write the leaflet using patient-friendly language, so nothing overly technical. For lower level groups, students can look at the example before starting the activity. https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/publications/conditions (list of publications)


Alternatively, give students some headlines to help them structure their leaflet.


Suggested headings

How the heart works,

Symptoms of a heart attack and what to do,

What is a heart attack?

The first few days after a heart attack,

The first few weeks after a heart attack,

How can I reduce my risk of further heart problems?

Stronger students can write their patient information leaflet first, then look at the example and make comparisons/edits if necessary.

This lesson plan uses materials from SLC’s English for Doctors course, click here to find out more.


For the full lesson plan and the printable student worksheet with text and vocabulary activities, just submit your details and download it here.

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