What is Coronary Heart Disease?
Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) also known as Coronary Artery Disease (CAD), occurs when the coronary arteries in your body become very narrow, it also means that there is damage in your major blood vessels. Coronary arteries are blood vessels that supply oxygen and blood that is needed by the heart as our heart requires a supply of blood and oxygen continuously in order for it to function and also survive, much like the other body organs or tissues inside our body.
The development of CHD is caused by the cholesterol that builds upon the artery walls from the food we ate. Therefore, it creates plaque on the artery walls making it narrow which leads to a reduced supply of blood that carries oxygen to the heart.
If there is suddenly a clot, this is a very serious health problem as the clot will be blocking the flow or supply of blood to the heart. The network of blood vessels that is on the surface of the heart is formed by the coronary arteries to feed the heart with oxygen.
If the arteries are narrow, the heart won’t be able to receive enough blood that is rich in oxygen especially when exercising or doing other physical activities. CHD may sometimes lead to heart attack. In the United States, this is the most common type of heart disease as there are more than 380,000 people that died because of this disease.
What causes coronary heart disease?
The development of this disease occurs when there is damage or injury in the inner layer of the coronary artery. Fatty deposits of plaque may build up in the injury site as the damage has occurred. These fatty deposits of plaque consist of cholesterol and other waste products of the cells.
This buildup process is known as atherosclerosis. Moreover, if the plaque breaks apart into small pieces, platelets will come and cluster in that area so that the blood vessels can be repaired. This cluster is making the artery narrower, meaning it is blocking an artery and reducing the flow of blood to the heart which therefore may lead to a heart attack.
What are the symptoms of coronary heart disease?
The most common symptom of CHD is angina or chest pain and discomforts that are caused by the building of too many plagues in the arteries, making it narrow. This causes chest pain as they are blocking the arteries in supplying blood and oxygen to the heart muscle and other parts of the body.
You may be having these feelings across your chest caused by angina:
Complications like a heart attack occur too if there is a huge clot in the coronary arteries or when your heart muscle is not getting enough supply of blood and oxygen. The symptoms include:
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Shortness of breath (since your organs are not receiving enough oxygen from the blood so everything can be really tiring)
- Arms or shoulders pain or discomfort
- Light-headed, weak, nausea (the feeling of being sick especially to your stomach), or cold sweat
A heart attack is a very serious condition as it can result in death or permanently damage the heart, so it is very vital to immediately call the emergency services for help once you notice that a person is showing the symptoms of a heart attack. Over a period of time, this disease is going to weaken the heart muscle, which may lead to heart failure. This is a serious condition as your heart can no longer pump blood to supply it to the rest of your body parts.
What are the risk factors?
These are the factors that increase the risk of a person developing CHD according to GianFeeds:
- Physically not active
- Having a very unhealthy diet (consuming a lot of junk food that contains a lot of saturated fats increase your blood cholesterol levels)
- Smoking cigarettes (contains tobacco)
If your family has a history of having coronary heart disease, this may increase the risk of you developing it too, especially if one of your family members has had it at an early age (below 50 years old).
How coronary heart disease is diagnosed?
This disease can be diagnosed in several ways, such as electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, chest x-ray, coronary angiogram and more.
What can you do if you are already diagnosed with it?
- Healthier lifestyle such as exercise regularly, healthy eating which means less sugar, low sodium, and fat and no smoking
- Take medications to lower your blood cholesterol levels, blood pressure and also irregular heartbeat
- Surgery procedures to allow and increase the rate of blood flow inside your body
How to prevent it?
The key in reducing the risk of a person getting CHD is controlling the blood cholesterol levels. These are life hacks that you can do to better control your blood cholesterol levels are:
- Try to be physically more active
- Healthier lifestyle
- Avoid smoking cigarettes (no tobacco)
- No alcohols
- Less consumption of sugar, salt, and saturated fats
People who are already diagnosed with coronary heart disease show watch over these factors carefully under doctor’s recommendations too.