Coronary Heart Disease Prevention

What is coronary heart disease?

Coronary heart disease is a cardiovascular-based condition that occurs when the heart’s supply of oxygenated blood and nutrients is restricted or cut off by plaque build-up. Over time, a poor lifestyle and other factors can cause plaque and fatty deposits to build up on the walls of our arteries, restricting blood flow. When this occurs in the coronary arteries, the arteries responsible for delivering oxygenated blood and nutrients to the heart’s muscles, the heart eventually becomes weaker and damaged. Despite being a potentially fatal condition, the British Heart Foundation reports coronary heart disease is fairly common, affecting approximately 190 million people worldwide.


Unfortunately, coronary heart disease is often referred to as ‘the silent killer’ as many of its symptoms aren’t always obvious and are therefore, easy to miss before the condition has become severe. Below are some of the key coronary heart disease symptoms to look out for.

· Chest pain

· Feeling breathless

· Experience higher levels of fatigue

· Dizziness

· Nausea/vomiting  

How to prevent coronary heart disease?

The way in which we can go about preventing coronary heart disease depends on multiple factors, including our current health and age. Below is a breakdown of the different stages of prevention and when they should be used. The three main stages of coronary heart disease prevention are the following.

· Primordial Prevention

· Primary Prevention

· Secondary Prevention

Primordial prevention

Primordial prevention refers to a method in which we minimize the risk of developing a condition by preventing the risk factors of that condition from occurring. This stage of prevention is most effective when started early on in life, before the risk factors of coronary heart disease e.g. obesity and high blood pressure, have had a chance to develop.

Physical activity

Research has found that participating in 150 minutes of aerobic exercises a week can significantly reduce an individual’s risk of suffering from obesity, high blood pressure, and arterial plaque build-up, therefore reducing the risk of coronary heart disease development.1 Examples of aerobic exercise include jogging, cycling and swimming.

Maintain balanced diet

Studies have found that diets high in saturated fats and salts are a big risk factor for coronary heart disease, whilst those who consume a balanced diet are significantly less likely to develop the condition.2 For those struggling, try and refer to the NHS’s healthy eating guide when planning your meals.


According to the Centre for Disease Control, regularly failing to get at least 7 hours of sleep a night increases the risk of numerous coronary heart disease risk factors. Research also confirms this, finding that those who regularly get insufficient levels of sleep are at an increased risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and obesity, all of which increase the risk of coronary heart disease.3

Limit alcohol and smoking

Overconsumption of alcohol and smoking has been strongly linked to an increase in the risk of coronary heart disease development. Whilst a few drinks a week is safe, anything over 14 units a week can begin to damage our cardiovascular health. Smoking, however, should be completely avoided, with research finding those who smoke are two times more likely to develop coronary heart disease.4

Primary prevention

Primary preventative measures are used when an individual has already developed some of the risk factors for coronary heart disease. Primary prevention aims to manage these risk factors, helping to get them under control and prevent them from worsening. The measures used will depend on the patient’s health and how advanced their risk factors are.

Lifestyle changes

In some cases, simple lifestyle changes are sufficient enough to manage or even eradicate a coronary heart disease risk factor. Below are some healthy lifestyle changes those with coronary heart disease risk factors can make.

· 150 minutes of exercise a week

· Consuming a healthy and balanced diet

· Practicing stress and relaxation techniques

· Getting at least 7 hours of sleep

· Restrict alcohol consumption

· Quit smoking


In some cases, medication is required in order to get an individual’s risk factors under control. The type and amount of medication an individual requires depend greatly on their condition; for example, someone with high blood pressure would likely be prescribed ACE inhibitors. Below are some of the most commonly prescribed medications for those with cardiovascular-related risk factors.

· Statins

· Aspirin

· Beta-Blockers

· Nitrates

· Blood thinning medication

· Diuretics

Secondary prevention

Secondary prevention is aimed at those who have already been diagnosed with coronary heart disease. Secondary prevention aims to prevent further cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks, from occurring. As well as some of the previously mentioned lifestyle changes, specific medication and potentially surgical procedures are used to manage the individual’s condition.


Once diagnosed with coronary heart disease, patients will be prescribed specific medication in order to manage the patient's condition. Below are some of the medicines most commonly prescribed to coronary heart disease patients.

  • Blood thinning medication 
  • Statins 
  • Nitrates
  •  Beta-blockers

Surgical interventions

In more severe cases, surgical procedures may be required in order to prevent further cardiovascular events from occurring. For those with coronary heart disease, there are three main surgical procedures.

·         Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery

·         Coronary Angioplasty

·         Heart Transplant


A healthy and active lifestyle is one of the most effective methods for protecting against coronary heart disease. All of the previous research indicates that those who exercise, eat a healthy and balanced diet and manage their stress and sleep levels are significantly less likely to develop the condition. 


  1. Winzer EB, Woitek F, Linke A. Physical activity in the prevention and treatment of coronary artery disease. Journal of the American Heart Association [Internet]. [cited 2022 Aug 14];7(4):e007725. Available from:
  2. Brown JC, Gerhardt TE, Kwon E. Risk factors for coronary artery disease. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 [cited 2022 Aug 14]. Available from:
  3. Knutson KL, Van Cauter E. Associations between sleep loss and increased risk of obesity and diabetes. Ann N Y Acad Sci [Internet]. 2008 [cited 2022 Aug 14];1129:287–304. Available from:
  4. Smoking • heart research institute uk [Internet]. Heart Research Institute UK. [cited 2022 Aug 14]. Available from:

George Evans

MSc, Sport Science, University of Lincoln

George is a freelance writer with three years of writing experience and first class honours in Sport Science (BSc). 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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