What is Coronary Heart Disease?
Coronary heart disease (CHD), also known as coronary artery disease (CAD), occurs when your coronary arteries become narrower and reduce the flow of blood into the heart. Often it will result in a heart attack.
With the UAE being one of the highest-ranking regions in terms of people with heart diseases, coronary heart disease awareness is fundamental as well as knowing preventative actions and treatments for the condition.
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Coronary arteries are the small pipes that are attached to your heart and supply blood. The disease develops when these arteries build up in fatty material and make these small pipes narrower, cutting the flow of blood into the heart.
CHD is an age-associated disease and is a lifelong condition that affects many people. Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of heart attack, and heart attacks are amongst the leading causes of death in the UAE.
As coronary heart disease is incurable, preventative action and management are essential in managing the disease and not letting it turn into a heart complication.
The leading cause of CHD is when cholesterol plaque builds up in your coronary arteries and is known as atherosclerosis. This reduces the blood flow into the heart, or completely blocking it.
Like any other muscle in your body, the heart needs a consistent supply of oxygen that is transmitted through blood flow. Certain risk factors may increase the likeliness of CHD from occurring. These include:
- Having high blood pressure
- Having high cholesterol
- Smoking tobacco
- Being overweight or obese
- Poor dieting habits
- Insulin resistance
- Existing health conditions such as diabetes
- Age as the chances of CHD is increased in older people
When your heart begins to lower its consumption of blood through the coronary arteries, there are physical symptoms you may experience. These include:
- Chest pain
- Tightness in chest
- Abdominal pain
- Difficulty catching breath
- Pain in joints, muscles
- Pain in arms and legs
If the condition worsens, it means the coronary arteries are becoming narrower. If you experience one or more symptoms, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately as early intervention is crucial in being able to prevent it from worsening, and also avoiding fatality.
When blood flow is completely cut off from the heart, the heart will begin to die, resulting in an instant heart attack.
When you seek the advice of a doctor, they will likely conduct multiple tests to identify the condition and its severity. Your doctor will then be able to treat the condition based on the diagnosis and your personal health condition. Diagnosis methods your doctor is likely to use are:
- Electrocardiogram – A test that monitors electrical signals that travel through the heart to identify if you have suffered from a heart attack.
- Echocardiogram – An imaging test that uses ultrasound waves to create a picture of your heart and determine whether it’s functioning properly.
- CT scan – An imaging test where your heart is externally scanned to check for calcium deposits in your arteries.
- Stress test – A test that measures the stress on your heart during physical activity and when at rest. The test will monitor the heart’s electrical activity while you walk on a treadmill or stationary bike to determine the significance of stress on the heart.
Treatment and Prevention
Treatment and management of CHD are crucial, especially if you have already been diagnosed. The type of treatment your doctor will offer you will depend on your personal health condition and the severity and overall development of the condition. Your doctor can provide you with treatments such as surgery, balloon angioplasty, coronary artery bypass graft surgery.
There are also lifestyle adjustments that you can make to help you manage CHD, as well as prevent it from those who have not been diagnosed with it yet. Some things you can do to prevent CHD are:
- Stop smoking
- Exercise more
- Lose and maintain a healthy weight
- Avoid heavily processed or high-fat foods
- Avoid medication unless your doctor prescribes it
- Get enough sleep every night
- Eat more nutritious foods
On top of a healthy diet and lifestyle, it’s important to speak with a doctor if you notice any irregularities in your health. Especially for the elderly out anyone above the age of 45, the risk factors of CHD increase by a lot, so its important to get medical advice even if you don’t notice symptoms.
If you suspect any irregularities in your health, would like to know more about your heart health and any personal health suspicions you may have, speak with your doctor today.
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