Coronary Heart Disease

Your scores suggests that your risk of having heart disease is no higher than someone of the same age, gender and ethnicity. However, if you are concerned about heart disease, you should always see your doctor.

Introduction

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is one of the world's biggest killers. About one in five men and one in eight women die from the disease. CHD generally affects more men than women, but from the age of 50 the chances of developing CHD are similar for men and women. As well as angina (chest pain), the main symptoms of CHD are heart attacks and heart failure. However, not everyone has the same symptoms and some people may not have any before CHD is diagnosed. CHD is sometimes called ischaemic heart disease. Things that you can do to reduce your risk of heart disease include the following:

Quit smoking

If you're a smoker, stopping is the biggest step you can take to reduce your risk of developing heart disease. Smokers are nearly twice as likely to have a heart attack as people who have never smoked. But within a year of stopping smoking, your risk of heart attack falls to about half that of a smoker.

Breathing in someone else's smoke is harmful, too. Non-smokers who live with smokers have a greater risk of heart disease than people who don't.

Eat well

A healthy, balanced diet can help reduce your risk of heart disease.

You should try to eat:

  • at least five portions of different fruit and vegetables
  • plenty of starchy foods, especially wholemeal bread, brown rice and pasta
  • some meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein
  • some milk and dairy foods – choose lower-fat varieties
  • just a small amount of food and drinks high in fat, sugar, or both

Cut down on fat

Reduce your total fat intake, especially saturated fat. These lead to increased cholesterol, so are bad for your heart. Foods high in saturated fat include butter, hard cheese, fatty meat, biscuits, cakes, cream, lard, suet, ghee, coconut oil and palm oil.

Include small amounts of unsaturated fats, which are good for cholesterol levels. Foods high in unsaturated fat include oily fish, vegetable oils and spreads, and nuts and seeds.

Grilling, steaming, poaching, boiling or microwaving your food instead of roasting or frying means you don't need to add fat when you're cooking.

Eat less sugar

Cut down on sugary foods and drinks so you have them only occasionally in small amounts. Cakes, biscuits, chocolate, sweets and some fizzy and juice drinks contain "free sugars". Free sugars include the sugars added to food or drink, as well as the sugars found naturally in honey, syrups and unsweetened fruit juice.

Reduce salt

Your body needs small amounts of salt. But eating too much salt can cause high blood pressure, which is linked to heart disease. Adults should eat less than 6g of salt a day – that's about one teaspoon. To reduce the amount of salt you eat, avoid adding salt at the dinner table or when you're cooking.

Drink less alcohol

If you drink alcohol, keep to the recommended daily limits. Regularly drinking more than this can lead to weight gain, high blood pressure, and a higher risk of heart disease.

Get moving

An active lifestyle can reduce your risk of developing heart disease. Past activity levels don't count: it's how active you are now that matters.

Regular exercise can lower your blood pressure, cholesterol levels and weight. Adults should do 150 minutes of moderate activity every week.

No matter how active you are, sitting down for long periods is unhealthy and linked to weight gain. You can reduce the amount of time you spend sitting by building activity into your day, and taking breaks when you do have to stay seated for a long time.

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