Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) is the most common form of disease affecting the heart and consequently also known to be an important cause of premature death in the UK.The term 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 become furred up with fatty deposits known as atheroma. If the coronary arteries become narrow due to a build up of atheroma the blood supply to the heart will be restricted. This can cause angina (chest pains). If a coronary artery becomes completely blocked, it can cause a heart attack.
Angina affects around 1 in 50 people, and is estimated that in the UK there are over a million people with this condition. It affects men more than women, and the chances of getting it increase with age.
Signs and symptoms
CHD may be symptom free but where symptoms are present they can include the following:
· Shortness of breath
· Chest pain
· Heart attack (myocardial infarction)
Treatment and prevention
By making some simple lifestyle changes, the chances of getting coronary heart disease can be greatly reduced. These same changes can be adopted to reduce further development and complications of the disease for those already diagnosed.
Basic lifestyle changes:
· Weight management or weight loss
· Stopping smoking
· Regular exercise
· Eating a healthy balanced diet to include “5 a day” (fruit & veg)
· Regular check up to assess and if necessary treat high blood cholesterol and blood pressure
Medicines are also used in the treatment of CHD. They each have their own purpose and are tailored to individual needs. Your GP will discuss this option as necessary.
If you have concerns about heart disease and your risk factors, or you want to make some changes to your lifestyle, please book an appointment with the nurse for a lifestyle check. If you have proven Coronary Heart Disease and need an annual review, this appointment can be made with Sister Jean, Louise or Kerry.
Heart attack – the symptoms
The discomfort or pain experienced during a heart attack can be similar to that of angina or even indigestion BUT is often more severe and last longer.
· Short of breath
· Heaviness in chest
· Heartburn or stomach ache
A heart attack can occur at any time, even whilst resting.
If any of these symptoms occur lasting longer than 15minutes, then emergency help should be obtained by calling 999