Coronary Heart Disease - The Risks
Health Education

Coronary Heart Disease - The Risks

Authored by DesiMD Doctor on 21 Jun 2016 - 17:42.


Heart disease in India is on its way to becoming an epidemic soon. The latest statistics suggest that in India, there are roughly 30 million heart patients and two lakh surgeries are being performed every year. This is due to various factors such as smaller coronary arteries, higher incidence of Diabetes and presence of risk factors at a very young age. The rise in heart diseases is dependent on a number of interlinked factors such as ageing, unhealthy lifestyles, poor eating habits, lack of exercise and stress. Other socio-economic determinants also play a role in increasing mortality rate, due to inaccessibility to healthcare, growth of heart diseases which affect both, the urban and rural population equally.

What is coronary heart disease?                                                                                                     

Coronary heart disease is a blockage in the arteries responsible for supplying oxygenated blood to the heart muscle. Blockages in the arteries develop over time, when cholesterol is deposited as plaque in the walls of the artery narrowing its lumen. The building up of plaque in the arteries is called atherosclerosis.

The obstruction or reduced flow of the oxygenated blood to your heart muscle due to plaque formation can lead to angina or a heart attack.


Factors that can be modified, by avoiding smoking, eating healthy, exercising regularly can reduce the heart risk.
 Modifiable risk factors

  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Diabetes Mellitus (sugar disease)
  • High cholesterol
  • Abdominal obesity (waist/hip circumference ratio)

Behavioral risk factors

  • Smoking 
  • Unhealthy diet that leads to high cholesterol (bad cholesterol known as LDL), also increases the risk for Diabetes
  • Diet that lacks fresh fruit, vegetables and greens
  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Psychosocial risk factors (stress): 
  • Lack of exercise or physical inactivity

Non-modifiable risk factors (that one cannot change) 

  • Age (men above 45 years, women above 55 years of age)
  • Family history
  • Biological risk factors ( family history)


Chest pain, or angina in medical terms, occurs due to heart disease. Angina can limit your activity and affect the quality of life. It may feel like pressure or squeezing in your chest. The pain also can occur in your shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or back. Angina pain may even feel like indigestion. It can also cause symptoms such as:

  • Trouble in breathing
  • Tiredness
  • Palpitations
  • Feeling of indigestion
  • Feeling of pressure in your chest
  • Dizziness and other nonspecific symptoms

Each blockage is covered by a cap (layer of scar tissue) and cause complete blockage leading to heart attack.

Heart attack occurs when the flow of oxygen-rich blood is completely cut off to a section of heart muscle and if the blood flow is not restored immediately a part of the heart muscle can die. Heart attack can lead to serious health problems or death if not attended to quickly.


A single test cannot diagnose a Coronary Heart Disease (CHD). Depending on your family history of heart diseases, your risk factors and lifestyle, your doctor may suggest the following tests to rule out CHD.


An EKG is a simple test to detect the heart's electrical activity. The test shows how fast the heart is beating and its rhythm (steady or irregular). 

Stress Testing

It is a test done to make your heart work hard and beat fast while heart tests are done. If you can't exercise what is normal for your age and fitness your heart may not be getting enough oxygen. Imaging tests are done while exercising and resting to see the functioning of your heart.


Echocardiography (echo) uses sound waves to create a moving picture of your heart. The picture shows the size and shape of your heart and how well your heart chambers and valves are working.

Chest X-ray

A chest x ray can reveal signs of heart failure, as well as lung disorders and other causes of symptoms not related to CHD.

Blood tests:

Blood tests help to see the level of certain fats, cholesterol, sugar, and proteins in your blood. If any of the tests show abnormal levels it indicates.

Coronary Angiography

When other tests are not satisfactory, coronary angiography is done where a dye is introduced into your coronary arteries through cardiac catheterization and special x rays are taken while the flow of the of blood through your heart and blood vessels are studied.

The best treatment for coronary heart disease is healthy lifestyle changes, medication, medical surgery. Treatment goals may include:

  • Widening or bypassing clogged arteries
  • Reducing the risk of blood clot formation
  • Reducing risk factors with an attempt to reverse the buildup of plaque
  • Relieving symptoms of CHD

Heart-Healthy Lifestyle Changes

Heart-healthy lifestyle changes play a major role in reducing the risk. They include:

  • Heart-healthy diet – avoiding or cutting down on saturated fats (from red meat) and trans fats (hydrogenated oils from pastries, creams, fried food etc) eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, and health fats such as mono saturated or polyunsaturated fats ( olive oil, canola oil, sesame oil, corn, sunflower oil, nuts, salmon, tofu)
  • Maintaining a healthy weight – Maintaining your BMI within 25 and having a normal waist girth.
  • Managing stress – practicing yoga, meditation and participating in relaxing activities etc
  • Physical activity – regular walking and exercises that keep you fit and active; avoiding sedentary lifestyle
  • Quitting smoking – smoking is hazardous for health and so is excessive alcohol intake.


You can prevent and control coronary heart disease (CHD) by controlling your risk factors with a healthy lifestyle and medicines (statins)  to reduce your cholesterol levels (LDL) reduce blood pressure, prevent a blood clot, control diabetes if you have it. The only way is to reduce your risk factors such as high blood pressure, stress, high cholesterol levels, overweight and obesity. Other factors such as age, gender, and family history are not in your control, however by reducing the modifiable risk factors, these factors can be managed.

*Disclaimer This is not medical advice. The content is for educational purposes only. Please contact your doctor for any health care issues.