Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Drugs used in Disorders of the Nervous and Cardiovascular Systems

UM LEVEL 02 - Years 2, 3 in Modular Undergraduate Course



DEPARTMENT Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics

DESCRIPTION This study-unit deals with the principles of neuropharmacology and the pharmacology of drugs used to treat disorders associated with the cardiovascular system.

Study-Unit Aims:

i. This study-unit deals with the principles of neuropharmacology and the covers various aspects of how different classes of drugs affect the brain. Various neurotransmitter systems are discussed together with the interaction of drugs on the various neurophysiological processes involved in brain function;
ii. To understand the basic pharmacology and mode of action of drugs used to treat disorders associated with the cardiovascular system.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:
By the end of this study-unit, the student will be able to understand:

- Classification of the nervous system and the role of the blood brain barrier;
- Nerve cells and neural communication: neurons and glial cells;
- Electrical properties of neurons: generation and conduction of nerve impulse;
- Action potential; ion channels; synaptic transmission;
- Receptors: ionotropic and metabotropic receptors. Drugs acting as agonists and antagonists;
- Neurotransmitters. Pharmacological intervention on various neurotransmitter pathways;
- Methods of studying the nervous system. Pharmacological methods;
- Drugs affecting cholinergic transmission. The role of acetylcholine;
- Drugs affecting major inhibitory neural transmissions: GABA and glycine;
- Serotonin and dopamine. Pharmacological intervention in diseases involving higher cognitive functions;
- Excitatory neurotransmission: drugs acting on glutamate and the NMDA receptor;
- Neuropeptides;
- Noradrenergic transmission. Adrenoreceptor agonists and antagonists;
- Relevant physiology and anatomy of cardiac function and circulation;
- Beta and alpha blockers; calcium antagonists;
- Centrally acting drugs and vasodilators;
- Ace inhibitors; diuretics; nitrates and cardiac inotropes;
- Antiarrythmic drugs and thrombolytics and anticoagulants;
- Lipid lowering drugs.

2. Skills:
By the end of this study-unit, the student will be able to:

- Apply the basic principles of pharmacology in the understanding of drugs used in the nervous system;
- Apply basic pharmacological principles in the understanding of patient's drug therapy for cardiovascular disorders;
- Predict the patient response to drugs used in the CNS and CV systems;
- Manage therapy in these groups of patients;
- Adopt a correct understanding of the correct selection of drugs in these conditions.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main texts:

- Ritter JM, Flower R, Henderson G, Kong Loke Y, MacEwan D, Rang HP. Rang & Dale's Pharmacology. 9th Ed. Elsevier. 2019.
- Wecker L PhD. Brody's Human Pharmacology: Mechanism-Based Therapeutics, 6th Ed. Elsevier. 2018.
- British National Formulary. Pharmaceutical Press.


- Brunton L, Knollmann B, Hilal-Dandan R. Goodman and Gilman's The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics, 13th Ed. McGraw-Hill Education. 2017.
- Waller DG, Sampson T. Medical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 5th Ed. Elsevier. 2017.



Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Sept. Asst Session Weighting
Examination (2 Hours) SEM2 Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Anthony Cutajar
Janet Mifsud (Co-ord.)
Charles Scerri


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The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2023/4. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.