What is coronary heart disease?
Coronary heart disease (CHD), also known as ischaemic heart disease or coronary artery disease, is when the coronary arteries that supply the heart with oxygen-rich blood become narrowed.
The narrowing is a result of the build-up of fatty deposits within the coronary arteries – a process called ‘atherosclerosis’. The arteries become narrow and rigid, and can become blocked. This restricts blood flow to the heart, and the supply of oxygen and nutrients, which has a direct effect on the heart’s function.
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the most common type of cardiovascular disease, and it is the most common cause of heart attack. In the UK there are 188,000 hospital visits each year due to heart attacks: that's one every three minutes (Source: British Heart Foundation, accessed Feb 2019).
When CHD is untreated, it can lead to stroke, heart attack or heart failure. It is therefore important to watch out for the following symptoms and seek advice from a health professional to ensure you get the right treatment.
Symptoms of coronary heart disease
The main symptom of coronary artery disease is angina, a condition which produces a feeling of pain, discomfort, tightness or pressure across the front of the chest.
Other symptoms include:
- shortness of breath
- heart palpitations
- rapid heartbeat
Causes of coronary heart disease
The following lifestyle factors can cause atherosclerosis to develop:
- high cholesterol and/or high blood pressure
- family history of CHD.
At Royal Brompton & Harefield Hospitals Specialist Care, we have a number of expert consultants who can treat and manage private patients with coronary heart disease:
- Dr Aigul Baltabaeva - Consultant cardiologist
- Dr Mahmoud Barbir - Consultant cardiologist
- Dr Jonathan Clague - Consultant cardiologist
- Professor Peter Collins - Consultant cardiologist
- Dr Miles Dalby - Consultant cardiologist
- Dr Simon Davies - Consultant interventional cardiologist
- Dr Ranil De Silva - Consultant interventional cardiologist
- Dr John Foran - Consultant cardiologist
- Dr Richard Grocott-Mason - Consultant cardiologist, Medical director
- Dr Shouvik Haldar - Consultant cardiologist and electrophysiologist
- Dr Charles Ilsley - Consultant interventional cardiologist
- Dr Rajdeep Khattar - Consultant cardiologist
- Dr Rebecca Lane - Consultant interventional cardiologist
- Professor Thomas F. Lüscher - Consultant cardiologist, Director of research, education and development
- Dr Alexander Lyon - Honorary consultant cardiologist
- Dr Mark Mason - Consultant cardiologist, Divisional director for heart at Harefield Hospital
- Dr Sanjay Prasad - Consultant in cardiology and cardiovascular magnetic resonance
- Dr Gareth Rosser - Consultant cardiologist
- Dr Robert Smith - Consultant interventional cardiologist
- Dr François Tarragano - Honorary consultant cardiologist
- Dr Joyce Wong - Consultant cardiologist, Clinical lead for cardiac magnetic resonance at Harefield Hospital.
- Mr Toufan Bahrami - Consultant cardiac surgeon
- Mr Fabio de Robertis - Consultant cardiac and transplant surgeon
- Mr Anthony De Souza - Consultant cardiac surgeon, clinical director of surgery at Royal Brompton Hospital
- Mr Jullien Gaer - Consultant cardiac surgeon
- Mr Shahzad Raja - Consultant cardiac surgeon
- Mr Ulrich Rosendahl - Consultant cardiac surgeon
- Professor Darryl Shore - Consultant cardiac surgeon
- Mr André Simon - Consultant cardiothoracic surgeon, director of heart and lung transplantation
- Mr Richard Trimlett - Consultant cardiac surgeon.
To see all of the consultants at RB&HH Specialist Care, please view our directory of clinical specialists.
Diagnosis of coronary heart disease
If you or your GP suspects that you may be at risk of developing CHD, it is recommended that you undergo an initial risk assessment. This involves:
- an assessment of your lifestyle, medical history and family history
- a blood pressure test
- a blood test to evaluate cholesterol levels in your blood.
Royal Brompton & Harefield Hospitals Specialist Care has a rapid access cardiac clinic for patients experiencing chest pain, or other cardiac symptoms requiring non-emergency assessment.
In order to confirm a diagnosis of CHD, you may be referred to a specialist for more tests. These may include:
- blood tests
- electrocardiogram (ECG)
- coronary angiogram
- magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans
- computerised tomography (CT) scans
- radionuclide tests.
Treatment for coronary heart disease
With the right treatment, the symptoms of coronary heart disease (CHD) can be managed and the heart function improved.
Treatment for coronary heart disease typically involves a combination of lifestyle changes and medication, although a procedure such as coronary angioplasty (stenting) may sometimes be required in severe cases, or when the first two approaches have not worked.
Lifestyle changes to treat coronary heart disease
The following changes can help to reduce the symptoms of CHD and reduce the build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries:
- eating more healthily
- quitting smoking (if you smoke)
- doing more exercise.
Medication to treat coronary heart disease
A range of medications can be used to directly reduce blood pressure or widen the arteries.
Surgery to treat coronary heart disease
The following procedures may be carried out to widen or unblock the coronary arteries: