Heart disease

Heart disease

Coronary heart disease, which is also known as ischaemic heart disease, is the biggest killer in the UK.

Call 999 now if you or the person you are with have severe chest pains which came on suddenly, particularly if:

  • it is a heavy, pressing or tight pain
  • it has lasted 15 minutes or more
  • it has spread to other parts, such as the arms, back or jaw
  • there are other symptoms, like breathlessness, coughing up blood, nausea or sweating
  • you are a smoker, obese, have high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol

Call NHS 111 or visit your GP if you have minor chest discomfort or the pain went away in less than 15 minutes.

Preventing coronary heart disease (CHD)

Living a healthy lifestyle is one of the best ways to combat heart disease.

For adults aged 40 to 74 it is important to have your free NHS Health Check every 5 years.

The NHS Choices website has more information on how to reduce your risk of developing coronary heart disease such as advice on high blood pressure (known as hypertension).

Symptoms of coronary heart disease

More men than women are affected with heart disease but by the age of 50 the chances of developing the condition are similar for both men and women.

For this reason, it is important to be aware of the symptoms, which include:

  • angina (chest pain) - the most common symptom
  • tightness in the chest - this should never be ignored
  • heart attack - where the supply of blood to the heart is suddenly blocked
  • heart failure - where the heart fails to pump blood at the right pressure
  • heart palpitations - where heartbeats become more noticeable
  • dizziness - if accompanied by palpitations
  • breathlessness - if sudden and for no apparent reason or a long-term condition

If you are concerned about developing heart disease, you should visit your GP.

Coronary heart disease - the NHS facts

Coronary heart disease, (also known as CHD), is responsible for around 73,000 deaths in the country each year. The NHS presently advises that:

  • 1 in 6 men die from coronary heart disease
  • 1 in 10 women die from coronary heart disease
  • 2.3 million are living with coronary heart disease
  • 2 million are affected by chest pain known as angina which is the most common form of heart disease

Most chest pain is not heart-related however and is not a sign of another life-threatening condition.

Other conditions which can cause chest pain include:

  • anxiety and panic attacks
  • gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (known as GORD) which is a common condition where acid from the stomach comes up into the oesophagus (gullet) causing heartburn and an unpleasant taste
  • bone or muscle problems
  • lung conditions

These are only a selection of potential causes of chest pain.

The NHS has greater advice on its website, while your GP should be visited if you have any further concerns.

Useful links about coronary heart disease