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Heart Disease

Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) is the leading cause of death both in the UK and worldwide. In the UK, there are an estimated 2.3 million people living with CHD and around 2 million people affected by angina (the most common symptom of coronary heart disease).

The most common type of heart disease is angina (chest pain). As well as chest pain, the main symptoms of CHD are heart attacks and heart failure. However, not everyone has the same symptoms and some people may not have any before CHD is diagnosed.

What causes Coronary Heart Disease?

Coronary heart disease is the term that describes what happens when the heart’s blood supply is blocked or interrupted by a build-up of fatty substances in the coronary arteries. Over time, the walls of the arteries can become furred up with fatty deposits. This process is known as atherosclerosis.

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

  • Smoking
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Diabetes

Diagnosing Coronary Heart Disease

If your parent’s doctor feels they are at risk of CHD, they may carry out a risk assessment. This involves asking about their medical and family history, their lifestyle and taking a blood test.

Further tests may be needed to confirm a diagnosis of CHD, including:

  • An MRI scan
  • A CT scan
  • Coronary Angiography

Treating Coronary Heart Disease

Coronary heart disease can’t be cured but treatment can help manage the symptoms and reduce the chances of problems such as heart attacks. Treatment can include lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise and stopping smoking, as well as medication and surgery.

There is lots more useful information on the NHS Choices website.

If you have experience of a relative with heart disease or would like to see what others are talking about, do join the conversation in the Age Space Forum.