Coronary heart disease (CHD) is narrowing of your heart arteries due to fatty deposits in the artery walls. It is more common in smokers and in people with high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol.
How common is it?
CHD is the commonest cause of death in the UK. 1 in 5 men and 1 in 7 women die from CHD. There are over 2.5 million people in the UK living with CHD.
What symptoms might I get?
CHD can cause symptoms of chest pain or breathlessness during exercise. Some people with CHD have no symptoms but can present suddenly with heart attacks or cardiac arrest.
What extra tests are required?
Most patients with CHD require additional testing such as an exercise stress test to evaluate symptom response and imaging such as a CT scan or a coronary angiogram.
Will I need treatment?
Yes. If you have been diagnosed with CHD then you will usually be prescribed medication including aspirin to thin the blood and reduce the risk of heart attack and a statin to reduce the rate of fatty deposits in your arteries. Some patients with CHD require additional treatment to open up blocked arteries (angioplasty / stenting) or coronary artery bypass surgery.
Is it hereditary?
There are some families who have a higher rate of CHD.
Does this affect my life expectancy?
It can do, although most people with CHD lead a normal life with few symptoms. The risk of heart attacks can be reduced by adjustments to lifestyle and medication.
What happens next?
A follow-up consultation can be made with a local cardiologist. If you have been diagnosed with CHD then you will be offered lifestyle advice to reduce your risk of heart attack. This generally involves stopping smoking, exercising more, losing weight, watching your diet, and medication to control blood pressure and cholesterol.