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Heart Information

You and your heart

The United Kingdom has one of the highest rates of coronary heart disease in the world, with one in four men and one in three women dying from coronary heart disease.

As well as the human cost, coronary heart disease also has major economic consequences with millions of working days being lost every year due to illnesses associated with coronary heart disease.

Within the UK, there are regional variations in coronary heart disease. For example, death rates from coronary heart disease are higher in Scotland, Northern Island and the north of England compared to Wales and the South of England. However, death rates from coronary heart disease in the UK have been decreasing since the early 1970's.

Coronary heart disease is a broad term, which covers a range of medical conditions. It can be defined as "narrowing or blockage of the arteries of the heart.

This can lead to angina, heart failure and / or a heart disease called hypertension (raised blood pressure) and hypercholesterolemia (raised levels of cholesterol in the blood).Other terms include:

Angina pectoris or angina: This literally means "pain in the chest". The pain is usually gripping or crushing in nature and is felt in the chest and / or left arm and jaw. This happens when there is insufficient blood supply to the heart muscle.

Arrhythmia: An abnormal rhythm of the heart.

Atheroma: Deposits of fatty material and cholesterol inside the walls of the arteries.

Atherosclerosis: Narrowing and thickening of the arteries due to deposits inside the walls of the arteries.

Atrial fibrillation: Irregular activity in the small chambers of the heart. This causes irregular contractions of the heart muscle.

Cardiac arrest: This is when the heart stops beating completely.

Embolism: This is when a blot clot moves through the blood stream from one part of the body to another, where it causes a blockage.

Heart failure: This is a condition in which the pumping action of the heart is inadequate for the needs of the body.

Hypercholesterolamia: Raised levels of cholesterol in the blood.

Hypertension: Raised blood pressure.

Ischaemia: This happens when the blood supply to body tissue during exercise is inadequate.

Left ventricular dysfunction: This is a disordered pumping action of the left large chamber of the heart.

Myocardial infarction: This is also called a heart attack. It happens when the flow of blood in the arteries to the heart stops or suddenly deceases. This can be caused by narrowing of the arteries due to deposits inside the walls of the arteries. It can also be caused by a blood clot.

Pulmonary oedema: This is when fluid builds up in the lungs and causes congestion. It is usually associated with heart failure.

Tachycardia: A heart rate of 100 beats per minute or greater.

Thrombus: A blood clot.

Thrombosis: This is the process of the formation of blood clots.

*If you would like to know more about coronary heard disease, or about the medical terms not covered here, speak to your doctor pharmacist.

By taking some simple precautions you could significantly reduce the risks of suffering from coronary heart disease.

The Heart

Your heart is a pump which is a strong muscle. Your heart beats 60-90 times a minute. This is equal to 100,000 beats every day or 3,000,000 beats every month!

Blood is pumped from the right hand side of the heart into your lungs where it takes up oxygen. The blood then returns to the left hand side of your heart. Your heart then pumps the blood out through the arteries, carrying blood to the rest of your body. Your blood then returns through the veins to the right hand side of your heart, and the whole cycle starts again.

What is Coronary Heart Disease?

Coronary heart disease usually begins with atherosclerosis. This is where the coronary arteries that carry blood to your heart become narrowed.

If there is a sudden blockage in one of those arteries, a heart attack happens because the blood supply to your heart muscle is cut off. This blockage can be caused by atherosclerosis, or by a blood clot forming (a thrombosis). In some cases, the blockage may be caused by a combination of atherosclerosis and thrombosis.

Sometimes atherosclerosis can cause angina, which is a severe pain in your chest. This pain may spread into your neck and arms. This pain is like a "cramp" in the heart muscles, caused when they do not get enough oxygen. This usually happens during a period of exertion or stress, and is normally relieved by resting.

What causes coronary heart disease?

There are several things that can increase your risk of developing heart disease. These include:

Cigarette smoking

High blood pressure

Eating an unhealthy diet

Lack of exercise

Obesity

Diabetes

If you have a family history of coronary heart disease

How common is Coronary Heart Disease?

The United Kingdom has one of the highest rates of coronary heart disease in the world.

In the United Kingdom:

One in four men dies from coronary heart disease!

One in three women dies from coronary heart disease!

In 2000, over 150,000 people in the United Kingdom died from coronary heart disease. This is equal to 17 people every hour! Every year millions of working days in the United Kingdom are lost because of illnesses associated with coronary heart disease. In 1996, the NHS spent £160 million treating coronary heart disease!

It is a common myth that people of a higher social status are more likely to develop coronary heart disease. In fact people on a low income are more likely to develop coronary heart disease. The problem of heart disease is so widespread in the UK that we have to start thinking of coronary heart disease as a public health issue- a problem that could affect us all!

Can Coronary Heart Disease be prevented?

Many things contribute to the development of coronary heart disease. Some of these things are beyond our control such as age and having a family history of coronary heart disease.

Doing some of the following may help reduce your risk of developing coronary heart disease.

Avoid being overweight

Don't smoke or stop smoking if you are a smoker

Take regular exercise

Eat less salt in your diet

Eat more fruit and vegetables

Avoid drinking too much alcohol

If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, make sure you take medicines prescribed by your doctor.

Ischaemia: This happens when the blood supply to body tissue during exercise is inadequate.

Left ventricular dysfunction: This is a disordered pumping action of the left large chamber of the heart.

Myocardial infarction: This is also called a heart attack. It happens when the flow of blood in the arteries to the heart stops or suddenly deceases. This can be caused by narrowing of the arteries due to deposits inside the walls of the arteries. It can also be caused by a blood clot.

Pulmonary oedema: This is when fluid builds up in the lungs and causes congestion. It is usually associated with heart failure.

Tachycardia: A heart rate of 100 beats per minute or greater.

Thrombus: A blood clot.

Thrombosis: This is the process of the formation of blood clots.

*If you would like to know more about coronary heard disease, or about the medical terms not covered here, speak to your doctor pharmacist.

By taking some simple precautions you could significantly reduce the risks of suffering from coronary heart disease.

The Heart

Your heart is a pump which is a strong muscle. Your heart beats 60-90 times a minute. This is equal to 100,000 beats every day or 3,000,000 beats every month!

Blood is pumped from the right hand side of the heart into your lungs where it takes up oxygen. The blood then returns to the left hand side of your heart. Your heart then pumps the blood out through the arteries, carrying blood to the rest of your body. Your blood then returns through the veins to the right hand side of your heart, and the whole cycle starts again.

What is Coronary Heart Disease?

Coronary heart disease usually begins with atherosclerosis. This is where the coronary arteries that carry blood to your heart become narrowed.

If there is a sudden blockage in one of those arteries, a heart attack happens because the blood supply to your heart muscle is cut off. This blockage can be caused by atherosclerosis, or by a blood clot forming (a thrombosis). In some cases, the blockage may be caused by a combination of atherosclerosis and thrombosis.

Sometimes atherosclerosis can cause angina, which is a severe pain in your chest. This pain may spread into your neck and arms. This pain is like a "cramp" in the heart muscles, caused when they do not get enough oxygen. This usually happens during a period of exertion or stress, and is normally relieved by resting.

What causes coronary heart disease?

There are several things that can increase your risk of developing heart disease. These include:

Cigarette smoking

High blood pressure

Eating an unhealthy diet

Lack of exercise

Obesity

Diabetes

If you have a family history of coronary heart disease

How common is Coronary Heart Disease?

The United Kingdom has one of the highest rates of coronary heart disease in the world.

In the United Kingdom:

One in four men dies from coronary heart disease!

One in three women dies from coronary heart disease!

In 2000, over 150,000 people in the United Kingdom died from coronary heart disease. This is equal to 17 people every hour! Every year millions of working days in the United Kingdom are lost because of illnesses associated with coronary heart disease. In 1996, the NHS spent £160 million treating coronary heart disease!

It is a common myth that people of a higher social status are more likely to develop coronary heart disease. In fact people on a low income are more likely to develop coronary heart disease. The problem of heart disease is so widespread in the UK that we have to start thinking of coronary heart disease as a public health issue- a problem that could affect us all!

Can Coronary Heart Disease be prevented?

Many things contribute to the development of coronary heart disease. Some of these things are beyond our control such as age and having a family history of coronary heart disease.

Doing some of the following may help reduce your risk of developing coronary heart disease.

Avoid being overweight

Don't smoke or stop smoking if you are a smoker

Take regular exercise

Eat less salt in your diet

Eat more fruit and vegetables

Avoid drinking too much alcohol

If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, make sure you take medicines prescribed by your doctor.

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