Coronary heart disease (CHD)

Atheroma build up in a coronary artery causing a restricted blood flow

Atheroma build up in a coronary artery causing a restricted blood flow

What is coronary heart disease?

If your coronary arteries are narrowed or blocked then the blood supply to your heart will be impaired. This is the most common form of heart disease, known as coronary heart disease (sometimes called coronary artery, or ischaemic heart, disease).

In coronary heart disease a fatty substance, called atheroma, builds up in the lining of one (or more) of your coronary arteries. This narrows the artery and causes a restricted blood flow. This process, known as atherosclerosis, can lead to angina and / or heart attacks.

What causes coronary heart disease?

There are certain things that increase your risk of developing coronary heart disease. These are called risk factors and include:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol level
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Not getting enough exercise
  • Being overweight
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Unhealthy diet

These risk factors have all been proven to contribute to coronary heart disease. The more risks you have, the more your risk of developing coronary heart disease; the risks don't just add, they multiply.

What if I don't have these risk factors?

You may be one of the people who does not have any of these risk factors but still develops heart disease. You may have other genetic factors (i.e. passed on through families) that may increase the likelihood of you developing coronary heart disease.

If a close member of your family has been affected by coronary heart disease then you should do everything possible to reduce your risk of heart disease. It is also important that your doctor carries out a cardiovascular (CVD) risk assessment on you to find out any specific risk factors that you may have.

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