Coronary heart disease
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is when your
coronary arteries (the arteries that supply your heart muscle with
oxygen-rich blood) become narrowed by a gradual build-up of fatty
material within their walls.
This condition is called atherosclerosis and
the fatty material is called atheroma.
In time, your
arteries may become so narrow that they cannot deliver enough
oxygen-rich blood to your heart. The pain and discomfort you may
feel as a result is called angina.
- If a piece of atheroma breaks off it may cause a blood
clot (blockage) to form.
- If it blocks your coronary artery and cuts off the supply of
oxygen-rich blood to your heart muscle, your heart may become
permanently damaged . This is known as a heart attack.
What increases my risk of CHD?
A risk factor is something that that
increases your likelihood of getting a disease. There are
several risk factors for CHD. The main ones are:
How you deal with stress, the amount
of alcohol you drink, and your income
may also increase your risk of developing CHD.
The more risk factors you have, the
more likely you are to develop CHD. Even though you can’t
change all your risk factors, there is plenty you can do to
reduce your risk and help to protect
What can I do if I'm worried about developing CHD?
You can have a free health
check to assess your risk of CHD if:
- You’re between 40 and 74 years old and live in England
- You’re between 40 and 64 and live in Scotland
- You live in Northern Ireland (where this is known as a
cardiac risk factor assessment)
Free health checks to assess your risk of CHD are not currently
offered in Wales, but you can still discuss any concerns with your
GP or another healthcare professional.
The health check usually takes place at your GP surgery.
Your healthcare professional will check your blood pressure and cholesterol levels and talk to you about your
lifestyle. Based on the results, they
will give you practical advice about keeping your heart
You can find out more about health checks in our booklet
Keep your heart healthy.
I've got a heart problem already, is there any treatment?
Your doctor will discuss treatment
options with you, depending on the type of heart problem that you have. These may vary
from taking medication, to having
surgery or a medical procedure.Even if
you already have a heart condition it’s still really important
protect your heart by living a healthy
I'm a woman, am I at risk?
Some people think that coronary heart disease only affects
men, but it affects women as well.
As a woman, it’s vital to know how heart disease can affect you.
The good news is, in many cases, it can be prevented. For more
information see our women and heart
disease page, or download or order our
Women and heart disease booklet.