Coronary Heart Disease

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Coronary Heart Disease - An Introduction


Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the most common cause of death and disability in the United Kingdom. It causes around 94,000 deaths in the UK each year and around one in five men and one in seven women will die from the disease. Coronary heart disease is usually caused by atherosclerosis which is a process whereby the walls of the arteries develop fatty deposits called atheroma. Atherosclerosis may manifests itself in a number of conditions including stable angina (where narrowings in the blood vessels restrict the flow of blood to the heart muscle) and acute coronary syndromes (where clot formation occurs suddenly in the blood vessel causing narrowing or complete blockage). These are described in the relevant sections.

Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI) is one of two coronary revascularisation techniques used to treat narrowed arteries, the other being coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG).

During PCI a small balloon is inserted and inflated to widen the narrowing in order to improve blood flow to the heart. The PCI procedure works by mechanically improving blood flow to the heart. A small balloon is inserted and inflated to widen the artery. In most cases Following this a ‘stent’, a metal mesh scaffold, is implanted to keep the artery open.

PCI is used to alleviate the symptoms of angina, prevent future heart attacks myocardial infarction, and restore coronary blood flow during a heart attack (“primary PCI” or “PPCI”).

List of abbreviations
ACS Acute Coronary Syndrome
BCIS British Cardiovascular Intervention Society
CABG Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting
CHD Coronary Heart Disease
ECG Electrocardiogram
MACCE Major Adverse Cardiac and Cerebrovascular Event
NSTEMI Non ST elevation Myocardial Infarction
PCI Percutaneous Coronary Intervention
STEMI ST elevation Myocardial Infarction
UA Unstable Angina