Defeating Disease - Coronary Heart Disease
How many people in the UK suffer from coronary heart disease?
Almost 2.6 million people in the UK suffer from heart disease. It is the UK’s biggest killer, responsible for over 100,000 deaths a year. The NHS spends more on heart drugs than any type of medication.
Heart disease occurs when there is a build up of fatty deposits on the inside walls of the arteries. These can clog up the arteries making them narrower and restricting the blood flow. A blood clot in the coronary artery can cut off the blood supply to the heart, which can result in a heart attack and sudden death. In the UK, someone has a heart attack every two minutes. In 30 per cent of cases, the patient dies.
Risk factors for heart disease include high cholesterol levels; high blood pressure (hypertension); a family history of heart disease; diabetes; obesity; inactivity; stress; excessive alcohol intake and smoking.
What is the role of diet in causing coronary heart disease?
Many of these risk factors are linked to diet. These include eating a lot of saturated fat, hydrogenated and trans fats, cholesterol, salt, refined carbohydrates and not enough wholegrains, fruits and vegetables. A typical Western diet, dominated by meat, eggs, dairy and processed foods, contains high levels of these undesirable substances.
Which strategies are effective in helping to prevent or treat coronary heart disease?
A well-balanced wholegrain veggie diet (low in fat and high in fibre) is loaded with the types of food that help control many of the risk factors described. Vegetarians have lower cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, weigh less (between six pounds and two stone less) and have a lower risk of dying from heart disease by 25 per cent!
If you have a family history of heart problems you may be at an increased risk. There’s not much you can do to change your family history but many of the risk factors for heart disease are preventable and can even be reversed using diet and lifestyle changes. Take a look at our top 12 tips. If you think it’s a bit too much to change overnight, try making one change every month. By this time next year you will be reaping the benefits.