Heart disease is one of the main vascular diseases
In coronary heart disease, the arteries that supply blood to the heart become blocked. This blockage is usually caused when fatty deposits that are carried in the blood stick to the walls of the arteries, causing them to become narrower.
The British Heart Foundation says that heart and circulatory disease is the UK’s biggest killer: in 2009, around one in five men and one in eight women died from coronary heart disease.
Diseases of the arteries, such as heart disease, are called vascular diseases. We all have some risk of developing heart disease.
In your NHS Health Check, your risk of developing heart disease and other vascular diseases will be assessed. You will then be given personalised advice and support in order to help you reduce that risk.
What happens in heart disease?
Blood carries oxygen and nutrients around our bodies. All our organs need a constant supply of blood in order to work properly.
When the arteries that supplies blood to your heart become partially blocked, your heart doesn't get all the blood it needs. The more blocked the arteries become, the less blood your heart gets.
The first signs of heart disease are typically symptoms such as:
If the artery becomes totally blocked, or if it ruptures, this can cause a heart attack. Heart attacks can cause permanent damage to the heart muscle, and, if not treated straight away, can be fatal.
Learn more in Coronary heart disease.
Avoiding heart disease
Some risk factors that make heart disease more likely are things we can't change about ourselves. You're more likely to develop heart disease if:
you're 75 or over
you have diabetes
you have a family history of heart disease
you're of South Asian descent
But other risk factors are things we can change. You're more likely to develop heart disease if:
you have high blood pressure
you have high cholesterol
you don't do enough physical activity
you're overweight or obese