Coronary heart disease

Megan McDonald
Note by Megan McDonald, updated more than 1 year ago
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Note on Coronary heart disease, created by Megan McDonald on 02/07/2015.

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Coronary Heart Disease

The coronary arteries supply blood to the heart. Coronary heart disease can occur when one or more of the coronary arteries has narrowed, or is totally blocked; by a buildup of fatty deposits (called cholesterol or plaque) on its walls. This process is called atherosclerosis. It restricts blood flow through the arteries and this causes damage to the heart muscle. When the arteries become partially or totally blocked, the heart has to work much harder to pump blood around the body. This can cause angina (chest pain). If arteries become completely blocked, blood cannot travel to the heart and this can lead to a heart attack. There are lots of diet and lifestyle factors the increase a person's risk of developing CHD. Since the risk increases with age, adults and older people are more likely to develop the condition. However, CHD can often be prevented and there are a number of things in which people can do to help protect their heart and keep it healthy; no matter what their age.

SYMPTOMS OF CORONARY HEART DISEASE If your coronary arteries become partially blocked this can cause chest pain (known as angina). If they become completely blocked, it can cause a heart attack (myocardial infarction). The Symptoms of AnginaAngina is a symptom of coronary heart disease. It can be a mild, uncomfortable feeling that is similar to indigestion. However, a severe angina attack can cause a feeling of heaviness or tightness, usually in the centre of the chest, which can spread to the arms, neck, jaw, back or stomach. Angina is often triggered from physical activity or emotionally stressful situations. Symptoms usually pass within about 10-15 minutes and can be relieved from resting or taking a nitrate tablet/spray.

HEART ATTACKS From taking a heart attack, it can cause permanent damage to the heart muscle. If not treated straight away, it can be fatal. If you think you are having a heart attack, you must dial your operator's number e.g in the UK it would be 999, in America it would be 911. Do this for immediate medical assistance. The Symptoms of a heart attack The discomfort or pain of a heart attack is similar to angina pain. However, it is often more severe. During a heart attack someone may also experience: Sweating Lightheadedness Nausea Pains in the chest and down the arm Tightness of chest Breathlessness The symptoms of a heart attack are also similar to indigestion. For example, they may include a feeling of heaviness in the chest, a stomach ache or heartburn. A heart attack can happen at any time, including while someone is resting. If the symptoms last longer than 15 minutes, it is probably a heart attack. Cardiac arrest During a heart attack, sometimes the heart can stop beating altogether and this is called cardiac arrest. Unless the person receives immediate emergency first aid to revive them, they will die within a few minutes.

RISK FACTORS FOR CORONARY HEART DISEASE There are many diet and lifestyle factors which increases a person's risk of developing CHD. Such as:1. High Blood pressure: Blood flows through the arteries at a constantly higher pressure than recommended Increases risk of heart attack or stroke Causes heart to become abnormally large Pumping action may become less effective High blood pressure is caused by: Physical inactivity Being overweight Having a diet high in salt + low in fruit and vegetables High alcohol consumption 2. Eating too much fat Increases blood cholesterol levels high levels of cholesterol increases the risk of CHD 3. Being overweight Increases risk of many conditions - some life threatening including CHD and Diabetes4. Too much alcohol Damages heart muscle Increases blood pressure Weight gain Increases risk of CHD 5. Lack of physical activity The heart does not get the exercise it needs to ensure it functions properly So people are likely to be overweight 6. Family history Increases risk of CHD and nothing can change thatPeople can: Take care of their diet Manage their weight Choose not to smoke Not drink too much alcohol Keep their levels of physical activity up 7. Smoking Doubles a person's risk of CHD Damages the lining of the arteries, so fatty deposits build up Carbon monoxide in smoke reduces amount of oxygen in the blood carried to the heart and around the body. Nicotine produces adrenaline which makes the heart beat faster and raises blood pressure May make blood more likely to clot 8. Diabetes High blood sugar levels may affect the artery walls and increase the likelihood of high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure9. Too much salt Increases blood pressure

Here is an infographic which is useful on how to keep your heart healthy. The role of the diet in the development of coronary heart disease A healthy, well balanced diet reduces the risk of developing coronary heart disease because it helps: Maintain a healthy weight Lower blood cholesterol levels Keep blood pressure within safe limits Prevent atherosclerosis There are many simple changes we can make to our diet to help keep the heart healthy. A heart healthy diet works in a number of ways. For example, it may help reduce cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure. Here are some easy tips that can reduce the risk of heart disease.Enjoy a variety of fruit and vegetablesFruit and vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals and other substances that help protect your heart. They also pack fibre and most are virtually fat free. Aim to fit in at least five portions of these foods each day. If you find this difficult, try including a glass of pure orange juice each morning and eating fruit or chopped vegetables for snacks. Feast of fish The healthy oil found in fish reduces your risk of a heart attack in lots of ways. Eating more fish isn't difficult; it can be easy as having a salmon sandwich or sardines on toast. Try to include the following types of oil-rich fish in your diet once a week (and don't forget the canned versions): Salmon Herring Sardines Mackerel Pilchards Trout Kippers Tuna (fresh tuna only) Focus on Fats While all types of fats are high in calories, some fats can also raise cholesterol levels. The main culprit is saturated fats, and it's found in fatty meat, dairy foods, cakes, pastries and palm oil. Easy ways to reduce your intake of this unhealthy fat include: Make the change to reduced-fat dairy products, e.g semi skimmed milk Use soft spreads made from vegetable oil, such as rapeseed or olive oil, rather than choosing butter, and use sparingly Trim the fat from meat and the skin from chicken Limit your intake of fast fried food, meat products like sausages, pies and streaky bacon Go for snacks which are low in saturated fat such as fruit, bread, nuts, seeds, low fat yogurt, vegetables and cereals. General tips for a healthy heart Go for a Mediterranean-style diet, with lots of vegetables and fruits along with fish and small amounts of lean meat. Include some wholegrain foods in your daily diet, for example, wholegrain cereals, bread, rice and pasta Watch out for trans fats, which can also raise your cholesterol levels, found in processed foods e,g hard margarine, pastry, cakes and biscuits Skip the salt Keep your alcohol intake within sensible limits Stay weight wise Aim to be active everyday Avoid smoking

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