Coronary heart disease

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is a major cause of death in the UK and worldwide. CHD is sometimes called ischaemic heart disease or coronary artery disease.

Coronavirus advice

If you have heart disease and you're worried about coronavirus, you can get advice about coronavirus and heart disease from the British Heart Foundation.


Symptoms of CHD

The main symptoms of CHD are:

You can also have other symptoms, such as heart palpitations and unusual breathlessness.

But not everyone has the same symptoms and some people may not have any before CHD is diagnosed.

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Causes of coronary heart disease

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.

You're also more at risk of getting atherosclerosis if you have conditions like high cholesterol, high blood pressure (hypertension) or diabetes.

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Diagnosing coronary heart disease (CHD)

If your doctor feels you're at risk of CHD, 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 CHD, including:

Read more about how coronary heart disease is diagnosed.

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Treating coronary heart disease

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:

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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 CHD.

Read more about recovering from the effects of coronary heart disease.

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Preventing CHD

You can reduce your risk of getting CHD by making some simple lifestyle changes.

These include:

Keeping your heart healthy will also have other health benefits, such as helping reduce your risk of stroke and dementia.

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The heart

The heart is a muscle about the size of your fist. It pumps blood around your body and beats approximately 70 times a minute.

After the blood leaves the right side of the heart, it goes to your lungs where it picks up oxygen.

The oxygen-rich blood returns to your heart and is then pumped to the body's organs through a network of arteries.

The blood returns to your heart through veins before being pumped back to your lungs again. This process is called circulation.

The heart gets its own supply of blood from a network of blood vessels on the heart's surface called coronary arteries.

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