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The Risk Factors Associated with Coronary Heart Disease

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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.
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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:
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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.
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Cholesterol causes atheroma to build up inside artery walls, preventing enough
blood reaching the heart or other parts of the body.
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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.
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Alcohol:
Heavy drinkers have an increased risk of CHD as alcohol raises blood pressure,
contributes to obesity and causes irregular heartbeat.
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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.