Coronary Heart Disease

Coronary heart disease or ischaemic heart disease, is known as a disease of affluence and is one of the top 10 deadliest diseases in the world, at present. 1 in 6 men and 1 in 10 women die from the disease each year, which is over 73,000 deaths in the UK each year.

Coronary heart disease occurs when the blood vessels leading to the heart, become blocked or interrupted by a build up of fatty tissues made of cholesterol and other cellular waste products. This restricts blood flow to the heart, and therefore restricts the amount of oxygen in the blood. This process is known as atherosclerosis. If the deposit ruptures, platelets will clump at the site to repair the artery, this blocks the artery and can lead to a heart attack.

Causes include:

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure (Hypertension)
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes or insulin resistance
  • Sedentary lifestyle

There are also a number of risk factors:

  • As above.
  • Sex, men.
  • Family History
  • Age, over 50s.
  • Being overweight
  • High stress

Coronary heart disease leads to a large number of complications:

  1. Angina, Chest Pain.

The lack of blood flow to the heart results in chest pain and a shortness of breath.

2. Heart Attack

The complete reduction in blood flow to the heart, results in a heart attack as there is a lack of oxygen which affects the heart muscles.

3. Heart Failure

The heart becomes too weak to pump blood due to the reduction of nutrients and oxygen to the heart, as a result of the lack of blood flow.

4. Arrhythmia, Irregular Heart Beat

Inadequate blood supply interferes with the heart’s electrical impulse, causing irregular heart beats.

Treatment of coronary heart disease often involves the use of biological and mechanical stents, which are used to open up arteries and to widen them, to increase blood supply to the heart. This is known as coronary angioplasty. A complete heart transplant can also be used, however it is only used if other treatments are ineffective. By far, the easiest method is to change your lifestyle, by exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy diet.

Coronary artery bypass surgery is also used. A blood vessel is inserted between the aorta and the coronary artery beyond the point where the blockage resides. This means that some of the blood flow is diverted to one of the heart arteries, the blood bypasses the blocked blood vessels.

Medicines used to combat the effects and complications of coronary heart disease include:

  • Anti-platelets which act as blood thinners and reduce the risk of a heart attack.
  • Statins block the formation of cholesterol by increasing the number of LDL receptors in the liver, which aids in the increased removal of cholesterol.
  • Beta Blockers, slow heart beat and improve blood flow.
  • Vasodilators or Nitrates, widen blood vessels.




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