Coronary Heart Disease is a condition that affects the blood vessels.
Coronary Heart Disease is a condition that affects the blood vessels (coronary arteries), which supply the heart's muscle with blood, oxygen and nutrients. If these become partially blocked, a person can have decreased heart function and may experience pain in the chest, arm, neck or jaw (angina). If the vessels become completely blocked, some of the heart muscle can die. This is a heart attack.
The disease process can start when conditions – like high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and smoking – cause damage to artery walls. The body tries to repair the damage, but in the process, fat, cholesterol, calcium and other substances can be deposited in artery walls. At the same time these can become narrowed from fat and cholesterol build-up inside the artery walls, which is a disease known as atherosclerosis. Over time this build-up (plaque) can narrow the artery walls and can also develop a hard fibrous cap. If this fibrous cap ruptures, a blood clot can form and completely block the blood vessel, leading to a heart attack.
The most common symptom of heart disease is chest pain, but in many cases there are no symptoms before a heart attack. The "classic" heart attack symptom is pain or pressure in the chest that can spread to the arm, shoulder, neck or jaw. Some people experience abdominal pain, nausea, shortness of breath, palpitations or weakness without any chest pain. If you have any of these symptoms, call an ambulance immediately.