Coronary heart disease – top 5 questions answered

Leading heart specialist from HCA UK shares answers to common questions about heart disease

Dr Sam Firoozi Cardiologist.jpg

Coronary heart disease is a term which describes what happens when the heart’s blood supply is blocked or interrupted by a build-up of fatty substances in the arteries which supply blood to the heart (coronary arteries).

Here Dr Sam Firoozi, Consultant Cardiologist at The Harley Street Clinic, part of HCA Healthcare UK, speaks to us about coronary heart disease (a heart condition that can precede a heart attack), the possible risk factors, and how it can be diagnosed and treated.

What causes coronary heart disease?

Coronary heart disease (CHD) occurs when the coronary arteries start to become narrowed or blocked as a result of fatty deposits. When the fatty deposits build up and block blood flow, this can result in a heart attack or heart failure if left untreated. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the early signs and symptoms of CHD.

What are the symptoms of CHD?

Symptoms of coronary heart disease may include:

  • Chest pain, especially on exertion
  • Shortness of breath on exertion
  • Chest pain associated with left arm or jaw discomfort
  • Feeling faint or dizzy on exertion

What risk factors contribute to CHD?

Lifestyle factors can contribute to your likelihood of developing CHD. To lower your risk of CHD, it’s important to avoid drinking too much alcohol, cut down smoking and adhere to a balanced diet, ensuring you eat plenty of plant-based products such as pulses, fruit and vegetables, lots of fibre and avoid eating too much salt or sugar.

A family history of heart disease can also be a risk factor, as can other underlying conditions such as diabetes. There is also a misconception that heart disease is only common amongst men, which is in fact false.

How is CHD diagnosed?

There are a number of tests that can be done to determine if you’re living with a heart condition, including:

  • An electrocardiogram (ECG) - a test to check your heart rhythm and electrical activity
  • Echocardiogram - a test which checks how your heart’s chambers and valves are pumping blood through your heart
  • CaRi-Heart- a new test which can measure the amount of inflammation of blood vessels in and around the heart, and can identify and arteries which are at an increased risk of becoming blocked or narrowed in the future

How is CHD treated?

If you are diagnosed with CHD, there are a number of ways it can be treated, from medication to various surgical options. Your cardiologist will be able to talk you through the most appropriate treatment option for you.

Learn more about the cardiac care we offer