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Coronary heart disease


Heart is a muscle about the size of our fist. It beats approximately 70 times a minute. It pumps blood around your body. The right side of the heart pumps the blood that goes to the lungs where it picks up the oxygen we breathe. The oxygen-rich blood returns to the left side of 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 called coronary arteries.

So what is coronary Heart Disease (CHD)?

Coronary heart disease is a term used to describe the condition when your heart's blood supply is blocked or interrupted by a build-up of fatty substances in the coronary arteries. Over time, these arteries become narrowed and the walls of your arteries can become hardened with fatty deposits. This is also called as atherosclerosis and the fatty deposits are called atheroma. CHD is sometimes called Ischemic Heart Disease (IHD).

Atherosclerosis can be caused by lifestyle factors and other conditions, such as:

  • smoking
  • high cholesterol
  • high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • diabetes

Symptoms of coronary heart disease

The most common symptoms of coronary heart disease (CHD) are chest pain (angina) and a heart attack. The pain of a heart attack is usually similar to that of angina, but it's often more severe. Pain of heart attack is also accompanied by other symptoms like lightheadedness, sweating, nausea.

Other symptoms of CHD include heart palpitations and breathlessness. In some cases, people may not have any symptoms before they are diagnosed.

How to diagnose Coronary Heart Disease?

If your doctor feels you're at risk of CHD, they may carry out a risk assessment. This involves asking about your medical and family history, your lifestyle and taking a blood test.

Sometimes they may conduct a few more investigations to confirm a diagnosis of CHD, like:

  • MRI scan
  • CT scan
  • Coronary angiography

How to treat coronary heart disease?

Coronary heart disease can't be cured but treatment can help manage the symptoms and reduce the chances of having heart attacks. With the right treatment, the symptoms of CHD can be reduced and the functioning of the heart improved.

The various treatments for CHD are as given below.

Lifestyle changes 

If you have been diagnosed with CHD, reduce your risk of further episodes by making simple lifestyle changes like:

•            eating a healthy, balanced diet

•             being physically active

•             giving up smoking

•             controlling blood cholesterol and sugar levels

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

 

Medicines  

There are different medicines used in the treatment of CHD. They are either used to reduce blood pressure or widen your arteries.

Visit your doctor to discuss the various options with you. Remember, heart medicines should not be stopped suddenly without the advice of your doctor as there is a risk that your heart condition may worsen and so would the symptoms.

Anti-platelets  

Platelets are blood cells that help wounds heal and prevent bleeding by forming blood clots. Anti-platelets are a type of medicine that can help reduce the risk of a heart attack by thinning your blood and preventing it clotting.

Common antiplatelet medicines include low-dose aspirin and clopidogrel.

Statins

Statins are medicines that help lower cholesterol levels in the blood. By lowering the levels, they help to slow the progression of CHD and prevent heart attacks and stroke. . Examples include atorvastatin, simvastatin, rosuvastatin and pravastatin.       

Not all statins are suitable for everyone, so you may need to try several different types until you find one that is suitable.

Beta-blockers

Beta-blockers are medicines which are often used to prevent angina and treat high blood pressure.

Nitrates

Nitrates are used to widen your blood vessels. They are available in a variety of forms, including tablets, sprays and skin patches such as glyceryl trinitrate and isosorbide mononitrate.

Anti-BP medicines like

ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors and Calcium channel blockers

Procedures and surgery

If your blood vessels are already narrow as the result of fatty deposits or if your symptoms cannot be controlled using medication, interventional procedures or surgery may be needed to open up or bypass blocked arteries. They include procedures like: Coronary angioplasty, where a small balloon is inserted in the artery to push the fatty tissue outwards. This allows the blood to flow more easily.

Coronary artery bypass graft:

Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) is also known as bypass surgery, heart bypass, or coronary artery bypass surgery. It is performed when arteries become narrowed or blocked. A special X- ray called the coronary angiogram is done to find out if you are suitable for treatment. A blood vessel is placed (grafted) between the aorta (the main artery leaving the heart) and a part of the coronary artery beyond the narrowed or blocked area (bypassing the blocked segment of the coronary artery). Sometimes one of your own arteries that supplies blood to the chest wall is used and diverted to one of the heart arteries. This allows the blood to get around the narrowed or blocked sections of coronary arteries.

Recovery

If you have problems, such as a heart attack or heart surgery, it's possible to eventually resume a normal life. Advice and support is available to help you deal with aspects of your life that may have been affected by CHD.

Know more about CHD, risk assessment /recovering from the effects of coronary heart disease by visiting the nearest HCL Healthcare clinic.