Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)

What Is Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)?

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is a broad term that encompasses any type of disorder that affects the heart’s ability to supply the body with enough blood. It is also known as coronary artery disease. CHD is the leading cause of death in the United States and other countries. The good news is that it can usually be managed and prevented with lifestyle changes, such as exercise, eating a healthy diet, and controlling cholesterol levels.

Causes of CHD

CHD is usually caused by a buildup of plaque in the coronary arteries, which are the arteries that supply oxygen and blood to the heart muscle. Plaque is a sticky material made up of cholesterol, fat, calcium, and other substances found in the blood. Over time, plaque accumulates in the arteries and restricts the flow of oxygenated blood to the heart. If there is a complete blockage, a heart attack can occur.

Signs and Symptoms of CHD

The signs and symptoms of CHD vary depending on the severity of the disease. Common symptoms include chest pain or discomfort, shortness of breath, fatigue, and an irregular heartbeat. Peripheral artery disease may also occur, where blood flow is reduced to the arms and legs.

Risk Factors for CHD

Several risk factors increase the chance of developing CHD, including:

  • Older age
  • Smoking
  • High cholesterol levels
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Family history of heart disease
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Being overweight or obese

Diagnosis of CHD

CHD can be diagnosed using a variety of tests, including:

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG) - to detect heart rate and rhythm disturbances
  • Echocardiogram - to look at the structure and functioning of the heart
  • Stress test - to assess how well the heart works under stress
  • Cardiac catheterization - to look inside the coronary arteries to detect blockages
  • Coronary angiogram – to measure blood pressure and the size of the arteries
  • Chest X-ray – to look for enlarged or damaged heart muscle
  • Blood tests – to measure cholesterol, glucose, and other levels

Treatment of CHD

The most common treatments for CHD include lifestyle changes, medicines, and medical procedures. Lifestyle changes may include quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and controlling cholesterol levels. Medicines such as aspirin, cholesterol-lowering drugs, and blood pressure-lowering medications can also be used to reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack. Medical procedures such as angioplasty, stenting, and bypass surgery may also be necessary if medical treatments do not work.

Prevention of CHD

Preventing CHD includes making lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and controlling cholesterol levels. Managing blood pressure and diabetes is also important for preventing CHD. Additionally, having regular checkups with your doctor and taking any prescribed medicines as prescribed can help reduce your risk of CHD.