The Risk Factors Associated with Coronary Heart Disease Coronary Heart Disease- A term given to issues with the arteries of the heart itself; mainly, when they become 'furred' with a material known as plaque that narrows the artery., blood flow is then restricted. A person is said to be suffering from an atheroma when their cardiac artery has a reduced blood flow due to plaque. Risk Factor- A clearly defined occurrence or characteristic which has been associated with the increased rate of a subsequently occurring disease. Increase the probability of getting the disease but don’t mean someone will definitely get it. There are a number of factors which separately increase the risk of an individual suffering from any cardiovascular disease. When combined these factors form a disproportionally greater risk. These risk factors include: Smoking: Carbon monoxide is carried by haemoglobin instead of O2, (as CO binds with O2 producing carboxyhaemoglobin), which means there is a lack of O2 being supplied to tissues so the Leads to raised blood pressure which increases the risk of coronary heart disease and strokes Reduction of O2 means there’s insufficient supply to heart muscle during exercise, leads to chest pain (angina) or in severe cases a myocardial infarction (heart attack). Nicotine stimulates adrenaline release, increasing heart rate and blood pressure Chemicals damage endothelium triggering atherosclerosis which narrows arteries leading to a raised blood pressure Platelets in the blood also become more ‘sticky’ leading to a higher risk of thrombosis and hence of strokes or myocardial infarction Nicotine also decreases the number of HDL present Genetic: Risk is increased if your parents have CVD. Different chances of inheriting the defective genes; two recessive / one dominant allele means its inherited High Blood Pressure: Higher pressure in arteries so heart must work harder to pump blood into them so is more prone to failure. Higher blood pressure within arteries means they are more likely to develop an aneurysm (weakening of the wall) and burst, causing haemorrhage. To resist the higher pressure within them walls of arteries become thickened and may harden, restricting the flow of blood. Blood Cholesterol: Cholesterol is essential for membranes, it’s an essential biological molecule which must be transported un the blood. Its carried in the plasma as tiny lipoprotein spheres and there are 2 main types: o High-density lipoproteins (HDLs), remove cholesterol from tissues and transport it to liver for excretion. They help protect arteries against heart disease. o Low-density lipoproteins (LDLs), which transport cholesterol from liver to tissues including artery walls which they infiltrate leading to the development of atheroma which could lead to heart disease. Cholesterol causes atheroma to build up inside artery walls, preventing enough blood reaching the heart or other parts of the body. If a piece of atheroma breaks off, a blood clot can form, blocking blood supply to the heart (a heart attack) or the brain (a stroke). Diet: High Salt levels cause the kidneys to retain water, high internal fluid levels lead to an increased Blood pressure High levels of saturated fat increase low-density lipoprotein levels and hence blood cholesterol concentration. Foods which act as antioxidants, (vitamin C), reduce the risk of heart disease and so does non-starch polysaccharide (dietary fibre) Age: More likely as you get older, Ageing arteries lead to them being less elasticated so they’re easily damaged, this can form blood clots leading to atherosclerosis or a heart attack Gender: Incidence is much higher for men than women. Inactivity: Most common risk factor Reduces blood pressure, red blood cells lack oxygen Exercise can halve the risk of developing CHD, reduce risk of Type II diabetes and raises HDL levels Diabetes: Diabetes is a condition where the amount of glucose in your blood is too high. It puts you at much higher risk of CVD, partly because high glucose levels can lead to blood vessel damage. Alcohol: Heavy drinkers have an increased risk of CHD as alcohol raises blood pressure, contributes to obesity and causes irregular heartbeat. It also increases levels of LDLs. Damages liver, liver can’t remove glucose and lipids from blood Liver converts alcohol to ethanol which ends up in LDL and plaque deposition Moderate amounts of alcohol may increase HDL levels.