Coronary Heart Disease

Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) develops when the arteries supplying blood to and from your heart (the coronary arteries) become blocked with fatty substances.

These fatty substances are made up of cholesterol and build up on artery walls.

  • If your arteries become partially blocked, it can lead to chest pain (Angina). This can range from mild to severe.
  • If your arteries become completely blocked, so that blood flow is completely restricted, you could suffer from a heart attack.

These can cause damage to the heart muscle, and in some cases, be fatal. Heart failure can occur when the heart becomes too weak to pump blood around the body. It can happen suddenly or over time. There are numerous lifestyle factors that can help you to successfully manage CHD, in order to prevent additional problems.

What can you do to improve your care?

Avoiding smoking

Smokers are twice as likely to have a heart attack than those who have never smoked. Not only can chemicals in cigarettes damage the lining of your coronary arteries, but carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood, forcing your heart to work harder to pump blood around the body. It also increases the chance of a blood clot, which can result in a heart attack or stroke.

Stopping smoking will reduce your risk of heart attacks and strokes.

British Heart Foundation also runs one of the biggest annual health awareness campaigns in the UK- National No Smoking Day. Teams work with national help lines, local stop smoking services, drop-in centres, pharmacists, GPs and other services that offer help and advice to smokers who want to give up. For further updates and future plans please visit the No Smoking Day website.

For more information please visit our smoking lifestyle guide.

Undertaking regular exercise

Regular exercise is vital for maintaining a healthy weight. It will make your heart and blood circulatory system more efficient, lower your cholesterol level, maximise your oxygen intake and also keep your blood pressure at a healthy level. The heart is a muscle and like any other muscle it benefits from exercise. A strong heart can pump more blood around your body with less effort. Gradual progression and lower exercise intensities are recommended for people with severe CHD. Aim to do 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week but stop your exercise session if you feel any pain or discomfort.

Overweight and obesity is associated with high blood pressure and diabetes. Both of these conditions increase your risk of developing CHD. Weight loss can therefore contribute to a reduction in both the health impacts and deaths associated with CHD.

Activate is a 12 week programme that offers cardiac rehabilitation sessions to patients who have had heart surgery or suffered from a heart attack in Bracknell Forest. You can be referred to the scheme via your GP or CHD specialist nurse. Classes are run twice a week by British Association of Cardiac Rehabilitation instructors at Crownwood Community Centre. The Community Map sets out a range of local events, activities, clubs and groups right on your doorstep. For more information about how to stay physically active in Bracknell Forest please visit our ‘Get Active‘ resources.

Eating a healthy diet

The food that we eat plays a massive part in CHD. It is therefore vital to maintain a healthy diet, with the correct balance of food groups:

  • Saturated fats, for example, chocolate and processed foods, raise your cholesterol level.
  • Excess salt can raise your blood pressure.
  • Sugar can cause weight gain and diabetes.
  • Unsaturated fats (found in fish and olive oil) are full of Omega-3 and lower your risk of heart attack.
  • Fibre helps to lower your cholesterol level.

It is, therefore, important to eat a diet that is low in saturated fat, low in sugar and salt, high in fibre and high in unsaturated fat.

Reducing alcohol consumption

Heavy drinking weakens the heart muscle, which means the heart can’t pump blood as efficiently. It can also increase blood pressure and cause abnormal heart rhythms which could result in heart failure. Alcohol is also high in calories, and so excessive drinking can contribute to weight gain and obesity.

Check with your doctor for advice on whether it is safe for you to drink alcohol and how much. It is recommended that the guideline daily alcohol allowance is not exceeded. This guideline states three to four units of alcohol a day for men or two to three units for women.

For further information about coronary heart disease and how to prevent or manage the condition please visit the British Heart Foundation website.

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