Heart Disease

Heart disease is one of the main vascular diseases

In coronary heart disease, the arteries that supply blood to the heart become blocked. This is usually caused by fatty deposits, carried in the blood, sticking to the walls of the arteries, causing them to become narrower.

Heart disease affects around one in four men and one in five women aged 75 and over.

Diseases of the arteries, such as heart disease, are called vascular diseases.  We all have some risk of developing heart disease at some time in the future.  In your NHS Health Check, your risk of developing heart disease and other vascular diseases will be assessed.  You'll then be given personalised advice and support to help you reduce that risk.

What happens in heart disease?
Blood carries oxygen and nutrients around our bodies. All our organs need a constant supply of blood in order to work properly.

When the arteries that supplies blood to your heart becomes partially blocked, your heart doesn't get all the blood it needs.  The more blocked the arteries become, the less blood your heart gets.

The first signs of heart disease are typically symptoms such as

If the artery becomes totally blocked, or if it ruptures, this can cause a heart attack. Heart attacks can cause permanent damage to the heart muscle, and, if not treated straight away, can be fatal.

Avoiding heart disease
Some risk factors that make heart disease more likely are things we can't change about ourselves.  You're more likely to develop heart disease if:

But other risk factors are things we can change. You're more likely to develop heart disease if:

Take action
At an NHS Health Check you will have a discussion with your GP (or another health professional). This will include a discussion of test results that are relevant to your risk of heart disease, such as blood pressure, cholesterol and body mass index (BMI).

Your GP will provide information and advice on how to maintain or improve your health, which will help to lower your risk of heart disease and other vascular diseases. If necessary, you will be offered medicines that will help, or given support (on the NHS) to help you lose weight or stop smoking.

A healthy lifestyle will help to minimise your risk of heart disease and other vascular diseases. For advice on maintaining a healthy weight, good diet and physical activity, see the NHS Choices links on the right of this page.


Coronary heart disease (CHD) causes heart attacks and is the

UK’s biggest killer, responsible for around four out of every ten

deaths. But there's life after a heart attack, and plenty you

can do to avoid having one.

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NHS Choices links

NHS Guide: coronary heart disease

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British Heart Foundation


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