Coronary heart disease is the term that describes what happens when your heart’s blood supply is blocked or interrupted by a build-up of fatty substances in the coronary arteries.
Over time, the walls of your arteries can become furred up with fatty deposits. This process is known as atherosclerosis and the fatty deposits are called atheroma.
Atherosclerosis can be caused by lifestyle factors, such as smoking and regularly drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.
Symptoms of coronary heart disease (CHD)
The main symptoms of coronary heart disease are:
- chest pain (angina)
- shortness of breath
- pain throughout the body
- feeling faint
- feeling sick (nausea)
Diagnosing coronary heart disease (CHD)
If a doctor feels you’re at risk of coronary heart disease, they may carry out a risk assessment.
They’ll ask you about your medical and family history and your lifestyle, and they’ll take a blood test.
Further tests may be needed to confirm coronary heart disease, including:
- a treadmill test
- a radionuclide scan
- a CT scan
- an MRI scan
- coronary angiography
Treating coronary heart disease (CHD)
Coronary heart disease cannot be cured but treatment can help manage the symptoms and reduce the chances of problems such as heart attacks.
Treatment can include:
- lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise and stopping smoking
- angioplasty – where balloons and stents are used to treat narrow heart arteries
Recovering from the effects of coronary heart disease (CHD)
If you’ve had a heart attack, an angioplasty, or heart surgery, it’s possible to get back to a normal life.
Advice and support is available to help you deal with aspects of your life that may have been affected by coronary heart disease.
Read more about recovering from the effects of coronary heart disease.
Preventing coronary heart disease (CHD)
You can reduce your risk of getting coronary heart disease by making some simple lifestyle changes.
- eating a healthy, balanced diet
- being physically active
- giving up smoking
- controlling blood cholesterol and sugar levels
Keeping your heart healthy will also have other health benefits, such as helping reduce your risk of stroke and dementia.