Coronary Heart Disease

Coronary Heart Disease, also referred to as Ischaemic Heart Disease or Coronary Artery Disease, is usually caused by the build-up of fatty deposits in the coronary arteries – the vessels that supply blood to your heart. This causes them to narrow, making it harder for blood to reach your heart.

If you have Coronary Heart Disease you may have:

  • Angina: chest pain caused by poor supply of blood to the heart muscle.
  • Arrhythmia: a disturbance of the normal rhythm of the heart.
  • Heart attack: when a coronary artery becomes completely blocked, part of the heart muscle is starved of oxygen and can be permanently damaged leading to a heart attack.

Risk Factors

  • Smoking
  • Elevated Blood Pressure
  • Elevated Blood Cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Sedentary Lifestyle
  • Obese or Overweight
  • Stress
  • High Alcohol Intake
  • Positive Family History
The causes of Coronary Heart Disease in patients is mainly due to:
  • A build up of plaque deposits on the inside of the blood vessels which narrows the inside of the blood vessel.
  • Further narrowing of the blood vessels by deposits of platelets on the walls of the blood vessel
  • Development of a thrombus (blood clots) which may suddenly cut off the flow of blood through the blood vessel.
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  • Chest pain is the most common symptom (referred to as angina pectoris). This may also be described as a discomfort, pressure or tightness in the chest
  • The pain may be felt extending into the arm, shoulders and jaw
  • Indigestion or heartburn
  • Shortness of breath or experiencing difficulty in breathing
  • Sweating or clamminess
  • Palpitations
  • Dizziness
  • Angina is a warning symptom of heart disease – a chest pain. The pain is brought on by a short period of decreased blood supply to the heart muscle. No permanent damage is done to the heart. Pain only lasts a few minutes and may be relieved by resting or taking a spray your doctor may have prescribed for you.

    heart attack occurs when the blood supply to the heart muscle becomes blocked and the heart is unable to receive enough oxygen to pump blood throughout the body. This may be due to the presence of a ‘clot ‘in the narrowed blood vessel resulting in permanent damage to the heart. Symtoms do not go away when the person rests or takes a spray of medication.

    If a person is experiencing pain for greater than 5 minutes-Seek urgent medical attention!

    When angina occurs:

    • res t- stop what you are doing
    • sit down
    • take nitroglycerin spray if you have been prescribed it

    Nitroglycerin is a medication used in the treatment of angina (chest pain). It works by widening or dilating the coronary arteries which increases the flow of blood to the heart muscle. This drug can be taken as a spray or a tablet which you place under your tongue when experiencing angina.

Looking after your heart is very important. Your Doctor may prescribe medication in conjunction with lifestyle improvement measures such as:

  • Physical activity
  • Smoking
  • Healthy eating & drinking
  • Diabetes control
  • High blood pressure control

At some stage medication and lifestyle management may not be sufficient to control your symptoms. At this point your doctor will outline the options which may be available to you. These options include ‘stenting’ of the diseased arteries or ‘surgery’ referred to as a bypass ‘Coronary artery bypass grafting’.