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What is coronary heart disease?

Coronary heart disease is a condition that is characterised by the narrowing of the blood vessels that supply oxygen and blood to the heart. This condition is also known as coronary artery disease and is the most common form of heart disease.

What are its main signs and symptoms?

The symptoms of coronary heart disease may not be so apparent in some individuals. This is most likely in the early stages of the disease.

The common symptoms of coronary heart disease include:

What are its main causes?

The main cause of coronary heart disease is the deposition and build-up of plaque in the walls of the blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart and other parts of the body. This plaque is nothing but the deposition of fatty substances that causes narrowing and hardening of these blood vessels. As it affects the blood vessels supplying blood to the heart, the blood flow to the heart slows down and may cause symptoms such as chest pain and shortness of breath.

How is it diagnosed and treated?

To diagnose coronary heart disease, the doctor may conduct the following tests:

  • Chest x-ray to assess the heart and lungs
  • Exercise stress test to measure the heart rate and activity during physical exercise
  • Echocardiogram to obtain a picture of the heart using ultrasound
  • Cardiac catheterisation to determine the efficiency of the heart
  • Coronary angiogram to monitor any blockage in the coronary arteries

There are a few factors that can help in reducing the risk of coronary heart disease:

  • Lifestyle changes such as following a low-fat yet balanced diet, having an active lifestyle, quitting smoking and getting regular health check-ups can be very helpful in reducing the risk of heart disease.
  • Those who are already at a higher risk can use medications to alleviate risk factors like high cholesterol, high blood pressure and irregular heartbeat.

The treatment for coronary heart disease includes the use of medication to manage the symptoms along with following a healthy lifestyle.

Some procedures or surgeries may also be done to treat coronary heart disease:

  • Angioplasty (Stent placement)
  • Coronary artery bypass surgery
  • Minimally invasive heart surgery
  1. Medicines for Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)

References

  1. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Coronary heart disease
  2. Center for Disease Control and Prevention [internet], Atlanta (GA): US Department of Health and Human Services; Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)
  3. Healthdirect Australia. Coronary heart disease and atherosclerosis. Australian government: Department of Health
  4. Center for Disease Control and Prevention [internet], Atlanta (GA): US Department of Health and Human Services; Heart Disease Facts
  5. National Health Portal. Coronary Heart Disease. Centre for Health Informatics; National Institute of Health and Family Welfare

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