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Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is one of the major causes of death. CHD is sometimes called ischaemic heart disease.

Symptoms of CHD

The main symptoms of CHD are:

  • Angina (chest pain)
  • Hheart attacks
  • Heart failure

However, not everyone has the same symptoms and some people may not have any before CHD is diagnosed.

Causes of coronary heart disease

Coronary heart disease is the term that describes what happens when your heart’s blood supply is blocked or interrupted by a build-up of fatty substances in the coronary arteries.

Over time, the walls of your arteries can become furred up with fatty deposits. This process is known as atherosclerosis and the fatty deposits are called atheroma.

Atherosclerosis can be caused by lifestyle factors and other conditions, such as:

  • Smoking
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Diabetes

Diagnosing coronary heart disease

If your doctor feels you’re at risk of CHD, they may carry out a risk assessment. This involves asking about your medical and family history, your lifestyle and taking a blood test.

Further tests may be needed to confirm a diagnosis of CHD, including:

  • A treadmill test
  • A radionuclide scan
  • A CT scan
  • An MRI scan
  • A coronary angiography

Treating coronary heart disease

Coronary heart disease can’t be cured but treatment can help manage the symptoms and reduce the chances of problems such as heart attacks.

Treatment can include:

  • Lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise and stopping smoking
  • Medication
  • Angioplasty – using balloons and stents to treat narrow heart arteries
  • Surgery

Recovering from the effects of CHD

If you have a heart attack or have had angioplasty or heart surgery, it’s possible to eventually resume a normal life.

Advice and support is available to help you deal with aspects of your life that may have been affected by CHD.

Preventing CHD

You can reduce your risk of getting CHD by making some simple lifestyle changes. These include:

  • eating a healthy, balanced diet
  • being physically active
  • giving up smoking
  • controlling blood cholesterol and sugar levels

Keeping your heart healthy will also have other health benefits, such as helping reduce your risk of stroke and dementia.

 

 
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