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Coronary heart disease


Watch your own heart attack...

Fast facts

  • Deaths from heart disease among under-75s have fallen by 27% since 1996.
  • 38% of deaths from heart disease in women are associated with lack of physical activity, 47% are linked to high cholesterol, and 6% are caused by being very overweight.
  • More than 80% of people who have a heart attack now receive potentially life-saving drugs within 30 minutes of arrival at hospital.


Coronary heart disease is the UK's biggest killer, with one in every four men and one in every six women dying from the disease. In the UK, approximately 300,000 people have a heart attack each year.

Angina affects about one in 50 people, and in the UK there are an estimated 1.2 million people with the condition. It affects men more than women, and your chances of getting it increase as you get older.

About the heart

The heart is a muscle that is about the size of your fist. It pumps blood around your body and beats approximately 70 times a minute. After the blood leaves 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 organs of your body 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 surface of your heart, called coronary arteries.

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. If your coronary arteries become narrow due to a build up of atheroma, the blood supply to your heart will be restricted. This can cause angina (chest pains).

If a coronary artery becomes completely blocked, it can cause a heart attack. The medical term for a heart attack is myocardial infarction.

By making some simple lifestyle changes, you can reduce your risk of getting coronary heart disease. And if you already have heart disease, you can take steps to reduce your risk of developing further heart-related problems.


Last reviewed: 03/08/2009

Next review due: 03/08/2011


dixie66 said on 25 March 2010

My husband had a heart attack in 2005 and underwent by-pass surgery in 2006, five months later he was getting angina pains again. Then in 2009 he was getting angina whilst at rest a lot (unstable angina).
While waiting for an appointment, I was doing some research online and came across the Health and Sciences Institute, they were discussing the benefits of taking Co Q10 especially if you are taking Statin drugs.
I got some Co Q10 from Nature's Best as they do not use the synthetic sort, and within two montths he was not getting so much angina and hardly using his GTN spray.
I also found the site of Aggressive Health and Kyolic Aged Garlic, and got him some of these, even more improvement, then a multivitamin and mineral tablet, fish oil and vitamin C, each one introduced gradually.
Six months on he hardly gets any angina and feels a lot better, he has just seen his cardiologist who is pleased with him and says his blood pressure is spot on.
The BHF says that Co Q10 may help with muscle pain caused by Statins, they will not open their eyes and believe that Co Q10 has many benefits.
Our bodies contain Co Q10 in every cell, the heart has the greater amount obviously, this depletes gradually with age, and with heart conditons and evern more so by Statin drugs.
The Canadian governement makes taking Statins and Co Q10 compulsory.
Eating healthily and taking more excersise is all well and good, my husband did all this before he had his heart attack, he is slim and has always been on the go. But that never stopped him having a heart attack.
His Cholesterol has always been normal, and they do say too much is made of Cholesterol, that this is not the biggest killer, that 75% of those who have heart attacks have normal Cholesterol levels.
I also bought the book ' How to Reverse Heart Disease Now' written by two cardiologists with fifty years experience between them, they not only believe in medicatiion but supplements as well and mention Co Q10 throughout the book

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daisywright said on 19 January 2010

this is one of the impressive content I have ever read about heart disease.

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daisywright said on 19 January 2010

this one of the impressive information I have seen on heart disease.

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pricedot said on 29 September 2009

Hey People, I just returned from Hospital one week after i was admitted with a Cardiac Arrest , Now carry a few Stints upon my Person and thanks to the NHS staff who looked after me, i now Exercise, Stopped Smoking and eat more healthy than i ever did at Roadside Snackbars .

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imaging student said on 14 September 2009

German based research into MRI is demonstrating whole body angiographic studies in approx 20 minutes and less using high speed protocols (turboFLASH i think). whole body angiography has been proven to highlight disease vessels not detetected under conventional MRI, CT and digital subtration angiography.

is anyone out there aware of plans to bring this technology (or similar screening principles i.e. C-reactive protein based blood test) into the NHS/primary care?

it would make sense as atherosclerosis/CHD/Stroke are all interconnected!

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eden01 said on 08 September 2009

I am sorry that jay724 is having such a long wait to see a cardiologist, but I would take this as a positive sign. I am 31 years old, and I went to my doctor thinking i had severe indigestion - he gave me an immediate ECG, which came out 'abnormal'. That day he referred me to a fast access clinic, where I was seen the following week. Precautionary drugs were prescribed, and an angiogram booked for three days time. (Monday, appt - Thurs, angio.)
Now I am on combination drugs, and awaiting an angioplasty to fit several stents and open things back up, and hoping to get some quality of life back.
Givene the horror stories of young women being ignored or humoured, I never expected to be taken seriously when I first visited my doc. Now, several hospital visits, a trip to A and E, and a few ops later, I am inclined to think that if you are NOT rushed to a cardiologists, your chance of survival is better than mine was. Maybe it is not urgent, in which case, although it's scary, I would smile and be pleased your doctor does not think you are about to have a heart attack.

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jay724 said on 10 July 2009

If Coronary Heart disease is the 'UK's biggest killer' why does it take so long to get a first appointment to see a cardiologist?
Surely, on the basis that 'prevention is better than cure' it would be more efficient to quickly diagnose and treat cardiac problems thus reducing the number of heart attacks and the resultant strain on ambulance and A&E services!!
My current wait to see a cardiologist is my first contact with the NHS for 10 years and quite frankly I'm not impressed!!!

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doctor2010 said on 01 June 2009

This fails to mention that a complete occlusion of a coronary artery is not necessary to precipitate a "heart attack" and that chronic high-grade stenosis of a coronary artery, in the absence of complete occlusion of a thrombus (clot), is sufficient to cause myocardial ischaemia leading to myocardial infarction or sudden death.

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Find and choose hospitals for coronary heart disease


The NSF for coronary heart disease (CHD) aims to improve the quality, effective- ness and fairness of the care you receive in the NHS. Find out how it is being done.

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