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Coronary Heart Disease

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What is coronary heart disease?

If your coronary arteries (the blood vessels that supply your heart) are narrowed or blocked, then your heart may not get enough blood. This is the most common form of heart disease, and is known as coronary heart disease (sometimes called coronary artery disease or ischaemic heart disease).

In coronary heart disease, a fatty substance called atheroma builds up in the lining of your coronary arteries. This narrows the artery, meaning less blood can flow through. This process (known as atherosclerosis) can lead to other heart conditions, such as angina or heart attacks.

What causes coronary heart disease?

There are certain things that have been proved to put you at more risk of 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
  • An unhealthy diet – usually one with a lot of fat, salt, and processed foods
  • High stress or a lack of sleep

The more risks you have, the more your risk of developing coronary heart disease; the risks don’t just add, they multiply.

However, even if you don’t have these particular risk factors, you could still be at risk of developing heart disease. You might have genetic factors or experiences that increase the likelihood of you developing coronary heart disease (CHD).

If someone related to you by blood has been affected by CHD, you should be extra careful and take any possible steps to reduce your risk of heart disease. You should also ask your doctor to conduct a cardiovascular risk assessment on you. This will look for any risk factors that you may have.

Reduce your risk of heart disease by maintaining a healthy lifestyle

Making small changes to your lifestyle and diet over time can make a big difference to your overall health and risk of CHD. You can start by cutting down on unhealthy foods and drinks, or by setting a routine and making sure you exercise every day.

Keeping your body moving and healthy is a simple, yet extremely effective approach to reducing your risk of CHD. Tell your loved ones that you’re making these changes and ask if they’d like to be involved – changing your habits is easier with help!

Even if you already have CHD, changing your lifestyle can make your CHD less severe and make it less likely to lead to complications like heart attack or stroke.

We’re here to help

If you’d like to learn more about your condition and the support available to you, call our Advice Line on freephone 0808 801 0899 or text NURSE to 66777. Whether you’re looking for a trained listening ear or to find others experiencing the same condition as you, we can help you to build a better, healthier life.

Visit our Living with a Heart Condition section for more information about how to manage your condition at home, how to stay well and reduce your risk of developing further heart conditions.

This page was last updated on July 19, 2022 and is under regular review. If you feel anything is missing or incorrect, please contact to provide feedback.

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