Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading cause of deaths for adults in America. CHD is a narrowing of the small blood vessels (coronary arteries) that supply blood and oxygen to the heart. This is caused by the buildup of plaque in the arteries to your heart. This may also be called hardening of the arteries or coronary artery disease.
Coronary heart disease is generally caused by atherosclerosis – when a build up of plaque (cholesterol) accumulates on the walls of your coronary arteries. This causes them to narrow, resulting in less oxygen and blood flow to the heart. Sometimes a clot may form which can obstruct blood flow to heart muscle.
Coronary heart disease – Symptoms
- Chest pain and/or discomfort, also called angina
- Excessive sweating
- Cramping and/ or pressure
- Shortness of breath
You may also feel the discomfort in your neck, jaw, shoulder, back or arm. People with diabetes, and/or those over the age of 75 may experience a “silent heart attack”. This is one that occurs with no pain at all.
Coronary heart disease – Prevention
- Quit smoking
- Limit alcohol
- Eat healthy foods
- Exercise regularly
- Lose excess weight
- Reduce stress
Treatment consists mainly of lifestyle changes, and perhaps some medical procedures and medications. A healthy diet is an important part of a healthy lifestyle also. Following a healthy diet can prevent or reduce high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol and help you maintain a healthy weight.
In addition to healthy lifestyle changes, keep in mind the importance of regular medical checkups. Some of the main risk factors for coronary artery disease are high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes which have no symptoms in the early stages. Early detection and treatment can set the stage for a lifetime of better heart health. Contact your family physician for a check up.