Coronary heart disease (CHD) is one of the most common diseases to affect the heart. It is usually caused by atherosclerosis, which is a build up of fatty materials within the walls of the arteries.
There are many known risks of coronary heart disease. Although some of these factors are out of your control (age, gender and family history of CHD), there are some that you CAN control. These include:
High blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels (triglyceride is a type of fat found in the blood).
High blood pressure
Being overweight or obese
Lack of physical exercise
Many people have at least one CHD risk factor. Your risk of CHD and heart attack increases with the number of risk factors you have and their severity. Additionally, some risk factors will put you at greater risk of CHD and heart attack than others. Smoking and diabetes are prime examples of such factors.
Many CHD risk factors start during childhood. This is becoming more and more common nowadays because many children are overweight due to an unbalanced diet and lack of exercise.
Coronary heart disease is the biggest killer in the UK, causing approximately 94,000 deaths every year. On average, people at low risk of CHD live nearly ten years longer than people at high risk of CHD.
However, there are ways that you can reduce the risk of developing CHD. These approaches include:
1. Not smoking
2. Maintaining a healthy weight
3. Lowering/controlling your cholesterol
4. Exercising regularly,
5. Eating less saturated fat, more fibre and avoiding trans fats
6. Managing stress effectively
If you already have CHD, adopting some of these approaches might well reduce the severity of your symptoms.