Coronary heart disease

heartCoronary heart disease kills thousands of people in the UK every year. Figures show that coronary heart disease is the UK’s biggest killer with the disease affecting 1 in 5 men and 1 in 7 women. Coronary heart disease affects more men than women but the number of women affected by the disease is increasing steadily. The disease is most common amongst people over the age of 50.

What is coronary heart disease?

Coronary heart disease is a condition which is caused by the collection of fatty deposits in the coronary arteries. Over time, the deposits become thicker and this can prevent the blood from flowing freely around the body. If the blood flow to the heart is disrupted this can cause angina, and if the flow is obstructed completely, this can cause a heart attack. A heart attack damages the muscle tissue of the heart and, if it is not treated quickly, the muscle can be severely damaged and may die. The process of fatty deposits collecting in the artery walls is known as atherosclerosis.

What are the symptoms of coronary heart disease?

Symptoms of coronary heart disease include:

• Angina: angina is chest pain; some people experience angina on a regular basis, while others only suffer sporadic pains. Angina can be mild or more severe; mild angina usually feels similar to indigestion, while severe angina can cause the chest to feel tight. Severe angina may also cause pain to spread to other parts of the body, including the neck, arms and back. Angina is usually triggered by physical activity or stress.
• Heart attack: heart attacks should always be treated as a medical emergency. Symptoms of a heart attack include chest pain, pain in the neck, jaw, arms and back, dizziness, nausea and vomiting and extreme anxiety. Heart attacks can cause permanent damage to the muscle tissue in the heart and therefore treatment should be given as quickly as possible.
• Heart failure: heart failure occurs when the muscle tissue is so damaged that it can no longer function; this means that the heart cannot pump blood around the body. Heart failure can occur suddenly (acute) or over a period of time (chronic).

Cosmetic SurgeryTreatment for coronary heart disease

There are various treatments available for patients with coronary heart disease. If you have a heart problem, you will be referred to a specialist in cardiac medicine and they will decide the best possible course of action based on test results, family history and your general health. Treatment options include:

• self-help: this may involve changing your diet, increasing exercise, giving up smoking and cutting down on drinking
• medication
• surgery: if medication and self-help techniques have failed, surgery may be carried out; the aim of surgery is to improve the flow of blood around the body by removing blockages or diverting the flow of blood around blocked arteries.

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