London Medical Cardiology
Risk Factors For Coronary Artery Disease
London Medical’s Cardiology Clinic provides the most up-to-date investigative cardiac procedures for patients with heart problems – and some of the UK’s most renowned cardiologists hold clinics here for all aspects of heart disease.
Coronary artery disease is one of the leading causes of death in the UK, causing approximately 25,000 deaths each year in people under the age of 75. With such a high prevalence, looking after your heart health is crucial.
Coronary artery disease is brought on when a build-up of atheroma, or fatty deposits, causes the arteries to narrow in a process known as atherosclerosis. This restricts healthy blood flow and can lead to potential heart failure, as well as a variety of other heart problems.
Many risk factors can contribute to the development of coronary artery disease — some of which can be avoided and others that cannot. In this blog post, we will highlight what these risk factors are and teach you how to keep your heart in tip-top condition.
Unavoidable risk factors
Some risk factors for coronary artery disease are unavoidable, but, even if you have them, it won’t necessarily mean that you are going to develop the condition.
Getting older is known to increase the risk of your arteries narrowing and coronary artery disease developing, but this can be divided even further when taking gender into account.
Studies have found that women tend to develop the condition later in life than men. That said, coronary artery disease is still one of the leading causes of death in women aged over 65, largely due to underdiagnosis — an ongoing issue that women face with many medical conditions.
As mentioned above, women typically develop coronary artery disease seven to ten years later than men do.
Some research suggests that the oestrogen a woman’s body releases before menopause protects them against the development of atherosclerosis. However, once women go through menopause, their oestrogen levels rapidly decrease, which may lead to a reduced level of protection from atherosclerosis.
Family history is also an unavoidable risk factor for coronary artery disease. If your father or brother has had the condition before they reached 55 years old, or your mother or sister developed it before 65, this can put you at a higher risk of developing it yourself.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you will definitely get coronary artery disease in your lifetime. However, if you have a known history of it in your family, you may be genetically predisposed to it and will likely need to monitor your heart health closely.
Lifestyle risk factors
Some risk factors for coronary artery disease can be attributed to the lifestyle choices you make. The good news is, they can easily be changed to help improve your heart health. These include:
Smoking is one of the major risk factors for coronary artery disease since harmful chemicals like nicotine and carbon monoxide can put a lot of strain on your heart. Other toxic chemicals contained inside cigarettes can also cause damage to your arteries, causing them to narrow and become blocked.
Stopping smoking and vaping is essential for reducing your risk of coronary artery disease.
Being overweight or obese
Being overweight or obese can greatly increase your risk of coronary artery disease and could lead to the development of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes. Each of these can then increase your risk of developing coronary artery disease.
Only a quarter of UK adults eat five portions of fruit and veg per day, proving that many people do not maintain the best diet for optimum health.
Eating a diet high in saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol can greatly increase your risk of developing atherosclerosis, which could then develop into coronary artery disease or another heart-related issue.
Studies have shown that a quarter of all adults in the UK drink more than the recommended alcohol intake each week. Drinking excessive alcohol can increase your blood pressure, leading to cardiovascular problems such as coronary artery disease.
Lack of sleep
Not getting enough sleep each night could put you at a higher risk of developing high blood pressure, putting an added strain on your heart and arteries. Studies have shown that a lack of sleep can put you at a higher risk of atherosclerosis and, therefore, coronary artery disease.
Different heart conditions can lead to the development of coronary artery disease. These include:
High blood pressure
When your blood pressure is too high, it can put a strain on your heart and potentially lead to coronary artery disease.
Hypertriglyceridaemia is when you have too many triglycerides (fats) in your blood. The condition may occur due to genetic factors, underlying medical conditions or lifestyle choices such as drinking too much alcohol and eating a diet high in refined carbs and sugar.
This can cause damage to your arteries and eventually lead to the development of coronary artery disease.
Atherosclerosis is one of the leading causes of coronary artery disease. Risk factors for this heart condition can include being over 65, smoking, having high blood pressure or cholesterol, and having a close relative with cardiovascular disease.
Other medical conditions
A number of other health conditions may put you at a higher risk of developing coronary artery disease.
Type 2 diabetes can increase your risk of coronary artery disease due to its associated links with obesity, high blood pressure and cholesterol.
Coronary artery disease is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in people with chronic kidney disease. This could be for several reasons, such as the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol tending to be higher in people with chronic kidney disease. Dialysis can also contribute to inflammation in the body which can then increase the risk of atherosclerosis.
High levels of stress can cause damage to your arteries and worsen other health conditions, putting you at a higher risk of coronary artery disease.
Sleep apnoea causes you to temporarily stop breathing when you sleep. This sudden drop in oxygen forces your heart to work harder, increasing your blood pressure and heightening the risk of developing coronary artery disease over time.
Some autoimmune diseases like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis can also increase your risk of atherosclerosis, leading to the potential development of coronary artery disease.
Coronary artery disease may be a common condition but, depending on the risk factors you have, it can be preventable. While some risk factors like your age or genetic disposition may be unavoidable, other things like your alcohol intake and diet can be controlled and improved to reduce your overall risk.
If you’re worried about your heart health and want to take steps to improve it, book an appointment with us at London Medical. Our cardiology team is always on hand to help safeguard your health and future wellbeing.
Consultant in cardiology, interested in interventional cardiology, rhythmology, echocardiography, heart failure, acute cardiac care, and sports cardiology.
Specialist in Interventional cardiology – the use of catheters and other devices to restore blood flow to the heart without major surgery.
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Consultant cardiologist who deals with adults only and specialises in heart failure.
Consultant cardiologist who specialises in complex cardiac devices and heart failure.
As a founder of London Medical, Dr Ralph Abraham specialises in diabetes, weight management, endocrinology and cholesterol
One of the most pre-eminent preventative cardiologists in the world.
Specialist in seeing patients with all types of diabetes using up to date technology. Dr Lunken also sees patients with inherited lipid disorders and those with statin intolerances.
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