Heart Health

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Your heart is a muscle that pumps blood to all parts of your body.  The blood gives your body the oxygen and nourishment it needs to work properly. Coronary arteries supply the heart muscle with blood.  The left and right cornary arteries divide many times to spread over the heart muscle wall and give it blood and oxygen.  The coronary arteries get blood from the aorta, the major artery taking blood to the rest of the body.

Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)

Coronary heart disease affects many people.  It's a chronic condition - that means it is long term.  

Coronary heart disease happens when fatty material builds up in your arteries.  This makes them narrower.  The fatty material is called 'plaque'.  Plaque builds up slowly, and this process is called atherosclerosis.  It can start when you are young and be well advanced by middle age. 

Stable plaque is generally not harmful but if the arteries narrow too much it can cause angina. 

If a blood clot forms in a narrow artery and blocks the blood supply to part of your heart, it can cause a heart attack.  

Lifestyle risk factors and management

 Reducing or removing risk factors can assist the management of CHD or prevent the development of CHD.  

  • Smoking - completely stop smoking and avoid second-hand smoke.
  • Maintain healthy eating - 1. limiting saturated fatty acid (SFA) intake to < 7% and trans fatty acid (tFA) intake to < 1% of total energy intake, 2. consuming 1 g eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) + docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and > 2 g alpha linolenic acid (ALA) daily , 3. limiting salt intake to < 4g/day (1550mg sodium).
  • Alcohol - consume a low risk amount of alcohol.
  • Physical activity - do at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, if not all, days of the week (i.e. 150 minutes/week minimum). T his amount can be accumlated in shorter bouts of 10 minutes' duration and can be built up over time.  For patients with advanced CHD, the goal amount of physical activity may need to be reduced.
  • Healthy weight - waist measurement : men < 94cm, women <80cm, Body mass index (BMI) range 18.5-24.9 kg/m2
  • Lipids - Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) < 1.8 mmol/L, High-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) > 1.0 mmol/L, Triglyceride (TG) < 2.0 mmol/L, Non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (NHDL-C) < 2.5 mmol/L
  • Blood pressure - maintain a blood pressure (BP) measurement of < 130/80 mmHg
  • Diabetes - in patients with diabetes, aim to maintain optimal blood sugar level (BSL) (HbA1c < 7%)

Ref. Reducing risk in heart disease - An expert guide to clinical practice for secondary prevention of coronary heart disease Updated 2012

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