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Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)

What is Coronary Heart Disease?

Coronary heart disease (CHD), also known as coronary artery disease (CAD), is a common type of heart disease that occurs when the coronary arteries, the blood vessels that supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle, become narrowed or blocked by a buildup of plaque (atherosclerosis). Plaque is made up of cholesterol, fatty deposits, calcium, and other substances that accumulate on the inner walls of the coronary arteries over time.


The buildup of plaque in the coronary arteries reduces blood flow to the heart muscle, depriving it of oxygen and nutrients. This can lead to various symptoms, complications, and serious heart problems, including heart attack, angina (chest pain or discomfort), and heart failure.

Risk factors

Several factors contribute to the development of coronary heart disease, including:


  1. Smoking: Cigarette smoking is a major risk factor for CHD, as it damages the lining of the arteries, increases cholesterol levels, and promotes the formation of plaque.

  2. High blood pressure: Hypertension increases the workload on the heart and damages the arteries, leading to the development of CHD.

  3. High cholesterol: Elevated levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, often referred to as "bad" cholesterol, can lead to the buildup of plaque in the arteries, increasing the risk of CHD.

  4. Diabetes: Diabetes is associated with high blood sugar levels, which can damage blood vessels and increase the risk of atherosclerosis and CHD.

  5. Obesity: Excess body weight, particularly abdominal obesity, is associated with an increased risk of CHD, as it contributes to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and insulin resistance.

  6. Physical inactivity: Lack of regular physical activity is a risk factor for CHD, as it contributes to obesity, high blood pressure, and abnormal lipid levels.

  7. Unhealthy diet: A diet high in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, sodium, and refined sugars increases the risk of CHD by promoting obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels.

  8. Family history: A family history of CHD, heart attack, or stroke increases the risk of developing CHD, suggesting a genetic predisposition to the disease.


Symptoms of CHD include chest pain or discomfort (angina), shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea, sweating, dizziness.

Treatment options

It's important to recognise the signs and symptoms of coronary heart disease and seek prompt medical attention if you experience any of these symptoms. Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment are essential for managing CHD and reducing the risk of complications. Treatment for CHD may include lifestyle modifications (such as diet and exercise), medications (such as statins, blood pressure-lowering drugs, and antiplatelet medications), and, in some cases, procedures or surgeries to restore blood flow to the heart, such as angioplasty, stenting, or coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG).

Can exercise help?

Exercise plays a crucial role in managing coronary heart disease (CHD) by:


  1. Improves cardiovascular fitness: Regular aerobic exercise, such as walking, jogging, cycling, or swimming, strengthens the heart muscle, improves circulation, and enhances cardiovascular fitness, reducing the risk of heart disease and improving overall heart health.

  2. Reduces risk factors: Exercise helps to control several risk factors for CHD, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and diabetes. It can lower blood pressure, increase levels of HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol), and improve insulin sensitivity, all of which reduce the risk of CHD.

  3. Promotes weight management: Regular physical activity helps to control body weight and reduce excess body fat, particularly abdominal obesity, which is a risk factor for CHD.

  4. Lowers stress levels: Exercise releases endorphins, which are natural mood-boosting chemicals that help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, all of which are risk factors for CHD.

  5. Improves blood vessel function: Exercise improves endothelial function, the lining of blood vessels, leading to better vasodilation and blood flow, which reduces the risk of plaque buildup and atherosclerosis.

  6. Increases functional capacity: Exercise enhances physical fitness and functional capacity, making daily activities easier to perform and reducing the risk of disability associated with CHD.

  7. Enhances quality of life: Regular physical activity improves overall well-being, increases energy levels, and promotes a sense of accomplishment and empowerment, enhancing quality of life for individuals living with CHD.

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