Coronary heart disease (CHD) kills approximately 70,000 people in the UK per year; however, only a fraction of the UK is aware of the risk factors associated with this leading cause of mortality rate in the UK.
Previously known as ischaemic heart disease, coronary heart disease is caused by the narrowing of arteries, as a result of a build-up of fatty deposits (atheroma) inside the walls of arteries. This gradual build-up of fatty material is referred to as atherosclerosis and when atherosclerosis develops in the main coronary arteries, which are responsible for supplying blood to the heart, coronary heart disease is the ultimate outcome. Angina refers to the pain and discomfort experienced in the chest, due to the restricted blood supply to the heart.
Moreover, coronary heart disease exposes you to a higher risk of experiencing a heart attack. If a section of the fatty deposit or atheroma falls apart, a blood clot can form and subsequently, block the blood supply from a major coronary artery to the heart. Simlarly, coronary heart disease places you at increased risk of encountering a stroke, as the build of fatty deposits can block blood vessels that supply blood to the brain.
Minimising Your Risk of Coronary Heart Disease
The British Heart Foundation identifies a number of primary risk factors responsible for increasing an individual’s likelihood of experiencing coronary heart disease. These include:
- High Blood Pressure. Otherwise known as hypertension, high blood pressure means your heart is working overtime to pump blood around the body. Sustained high blood pressure can cause arteries to narrow, thereby making it easier for fatty deposits to clog arteries.
- Smoking. If you’re looking for the extra push to quit smoking, well this is another reason why you should lay off the smoke. The highly addictive stimulant in cigarettes called nicotine increases your blood pressure, while carbon monoxide limits the supply of oxygen rich blood.
- Sex. Men have a higher chance of experiencing coronary heart disease at an earlier age than women.
- Age. As we age, our hearts naturally slow down during periods of physical activity.
- A lack of physical exercise. Exercise is paramount in allowing you to control your weight and regulate blood pressure levels, and hence a lack of exercise can lead to more atheromas and higher blood pressure.
- Obesity. Obesity can cause more atheromas or fatty deposits to form in the arteries.
If you believe you may be at risk of experiencing a stroke, it is vital you seek out life insurance beforehand. A stroke can result in brain damage, a disability and in some cases death; the medical severity of stroke means insurers are less likely to provide life insurance to applicants, who have suffered a stroke.
Applicants will most likely have to wait six months, before contacting an insurer to claim insurance and thereafter, their medical health will be subjected to an evaluation by insurance companies.
In order to receive an affordable rate for a life insurance policy, it’s always best to put applying for financial cover first and especially, if you’ve been diagnosed with coronary heart disease or determined at risk of facing a stroke.
Diagnostic Methods and Treatment
There are several tests used by GPs to diagnose coronary heart disease in an individual and these comprise of an MRI scan, CT scan and a treadmill test. The treadmill test or stress test allows GPs to assess, whether blood flow to the heart from the arteries is restricted, as the heart must pump more blood during exercise.
You can manage symptoms of coronary heart disease and prevent the onset of a heart attack or stroke, via lifestyle switches which incorporate regular exercise, a balanced diet and not smoking or quitting smoking. Moreover, a GP may be able to prescribe medication such as antiplatelets to prevent the formation of blood clots or statins, to aid with removing “bad” LDL cholesterol.