Coronary Heart Disease FAQ

What is meant by coronary heart disease?

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is sometimes also called ischaemic heart disease or coronary artery disease and occurs when the heart’s blood supply is blocked or interrupted due to the atheroma (fatty substances) building up in the walls of coronary arteries. It causes the arteries to be narrowed and slows down the blood flow. Coronary heart disease is a major cause of death worldwide.1 

What are three tests that are used to check for coronary heart disease?

There are various tests that can be carried out to diagnose heart disease; however, the three most effective tests when it comes to diagnosing coronary heart disease are:

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG) - a test used to check the heart’s rhythm and electrical activity through electrodes attached to your chest, arms and legs, that pick up the electrical signals from your heart and can detect abnormalities.
  • Echocardiogram - an ultrasound of the heart that allows us to see the structures of the heart and around it.
  • Coronary angiogram - a type of x-ray that uses contrast dye to make the blood flow visible through the blood vessels and arteries and allows to see any narrowings and blockages. 2;3

What is the difference between heart attack and coronary heart disease?

Coronary heart disease can cause a heart attack; however, these two are not the same. As described above, coronary heart disease is a condition caused over time by the buildup of fatty materials in the arteries that narrows them. A heart attack is a sudden loss of blood supply to the heart. Therefore, a severe case of coronary heart disease and very narrow or completely blocked arteries can cut off the blood supply from the heart and cause a heart attack.1;4

What causes coronary heart disease?

The main causes of coronary heart disease are:


Thee chemicals in cigarettes, such as nicotine and carbon monoxide can increase your risk of blood clots and damage the lining of coronary arteries.

High cholesterol levels

Cholesterol is fat made from the saturated fats in our diets, it is vital to maintain healthy cells but too high levels in the blood can cause fatty build-ups in the arteries.

High lipoprotein levels

Same as cholesterol; however, the levels of lipoprotein can be inherited from your family so high levels can be genetic.

Lack of physical activity

When you do not exercise regularly the chances of fatty materials building up in the arteries is higher.

Diabetes mellitus

It may cause the lining of the arteries to be thicker and therefore make the arteries narrow.1

How is coronary heart disease treated?

Coronary heart disease can be treated pharmacologically and surgically depending on the severity of the condition. There are numerous medicines that can be used in treating coronary heart disease depending on its cause:

  • Blood thinning medicines - thin your blood and prevent it from clotting.
  • Statins - reduce cholesterol levels by blocking its formation in the liver.
  • Beta blockers - slow down your heartbeat and improve blood flow.
  • Nitrates - widen the blood vessels by relaxing them and allowing the blood to flow easily.
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors - block the activity of the Angiotensin-2 hormone, which causes the blood vessels to narrow.1

Surgical treatments are only involved in emergencies and when medicines cannot control the condition. The procedures:

  • Coronary angioplasty - during this procedure, a small balloon is inserted to push the buildup of fatty materials in the narrowed artery out, which allows the blood to flow easily. Also, a metal tube is usually placed in the artery to hold it open and release medicines to stop it from narrowing again.
  • Coronary artery bypass graft - during this procedure, a blood vessel is inserted (grafted) in between the main artery leaving the heart and a part of the coronary artery out of the narrowed area.
  • Heart transplant - in severe cases, where the heart becomes damaged and unable to pump effectively transplant might be needed.1

Also, lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, eating a healthy and balanced diet, and regularly exercising can prevent the disease from progressing and lower your risk of a heart attack.

Can you survive coronary heart disease?

Yes, it is possible to survive and recover from coronary heart disease and have a normal life afterwards. 

Can you get coronary heart disease at any age?

Yes, you can get coronary heart disease at any age; however, elderly people above 65 years old are much more likely to develop it.1

Can anxiety cause coronary heart disease?

Anxiety is common in patients with cardiovascular diseases and may significantly influence cardiac health. Anxiety can increase your blood pressure and, if persistent, can cause interruption to your blood flow.  However, the studies have shown anxiety, in most cases, does not have a direct link to causing coronary heart disease.4

Is coronary heart disease a psychosomatic disorder?

Psychosocial factors can be considered co-factors in the development of coronary heart disease. The diagnosis of any heart disease itself can result in anxiety, depression, denial, and other mental symptoms, especially in severe cases of the disease and unfavourable prognosis.5


  1. Coronary heart disease [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2022 Nov 14]. Available from:
  2. Coronary angiogram [Internet]. [cited 2022 Nov 14]. Available from:
  3. Ecg [Internet]. [cited 2022 Nov 14]. Available from:
  4. Heart attack [Internet]. 2017 [cited 2022 Nov 14]. Available from:
  5. Celano CM, Daunis DJ, Lokko HN, Campbell KA, Huffman JC. Anxiety disorders and cardiovascular disease. Curr Psychiatry Rep [Internet]. 2016 Nov [cited 2022 Nov 14];18(11):101. Available from:
  6. Herrmann-Lingen C, Meinertz T. Psychosomatik der koronaren Herzkrankheit. Internist [Internet]. 2010 Jul 1 [cited 2022 Nov 14];51(7):826–35. Available from:

Weronika Konarska

Bachelor of Science - BS, Zoology/Animal Biology, Swansea University

Weronika is a Zoology student with a passion for One Health approach and tackling infectious diseases.
She has previous scientific writing experience including animal welfare and medical content. presents all health information in line with our terms and conditions. It is essential to understand that the medical information available on our platform is not intended to substitute the relationship between a patient and their physician or doctor, as well as any medical guidance they offer. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making any decisions based on the information found on our website.
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