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Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is a disease in which a waxy substance called plaque builds up inside the coronary arteries. These arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to your heart muscle.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)

About Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is a disease in which a waxy substance called plaque (plak) builds up inside the coronary arteries. These arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to your heart muscle.

When plaque builds up in the arteries, the condition is called atherosclerosis (ATH-er-o-skler-O-sis). The buildup of plaque occurs over many years.

Over time, plaque can harden or rupture (break open). Hardened plaque narrows the coronary arteries and reduces the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart.

If the plaque ruptures, a blood clot can form on its surface. A large blood clot can mostly or completely block blood flow through a coronary artery. Over time, ruptured plaque also hardens and narrows the coronary arteries.

Overview

If the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your heart muscle is reduced or blocked, angina (an-JI-nuh or AN-juh-nuh) or a heart attack can occur.

Angina is chest pain or discomfort... Read more about Coronary Heart Disease

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Low glycaemic index diets for coronary heart disease

The glycaemic index is a measure of the ability of a carbohydrate to affect blood glucose levels. While there are many randomised controlled trials that have examined the relationship between low glycaemic index diets and coronary heart disease, most are of poor methodological quality. There is little evidence from the randomised controlled trials to recommend that healthcare professionals should prescribe low glycaemic index diets for the purpose of improving risk factors for CHD.

Yoga for secondary prevention of coronary heart disease

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is a major cause of early cardiovascular‐related illness and death in most developed countries. Secondary prevention is a term used to describe interventions that aim to prevent repeat cardiac events and death in people with established CHD. Individuals with CHD are at the highest risk of coronary events and death. Lifestyle modifications play an important role in secondary prevention. Yoga has been regarded as both a type of physical activity and a stress management strategy. The physical and psychological benefits of yoga are well accepted, yet inappropriate practice of yoga may lead to musculoskeletal injuries, such as muscle soreness and strain. The aim of this systematic review was to determine the effectiveness of yoga for secondary prevention in CHD in terms of cardiac events, death, and health‐related quality of life. We found no randomised controlled trials which met the inclusion criteria for this review. Therefore, the effectiveness of yoga for secondary prevention in CHD remains uncertain. High‐quality randomised controlled trials are needed.

Wholegrain cereals for coronary heart disease

Wholegrain foods encompass a range of products and examples are wholegrain wheat, rice, maize and oats. The term wholegrain also includes milled wholegrains such as oatmeal and wholemeal wheat. The evidence found by this review is limited to wholegrain oats, and to changes in lipids as an outcome. There is a lack of studies on other wholegrain foods or diets. There is some evidence from this review that oatmeal foods can beneficially lower lipid levels such as low density lipoproteins (LDL) cholesterol and total cholesterol in those previously diagnosed with risk factors for coronary heart disease (CHD) even with relatively short interventions. However, the results should be interpreted with caution because the trials found are small, of short duration and many were commercially funded. No studies were found that reported the effect of wholegrain foods or diets on deaths from, or occurrence of CHD.

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Summaries for consumers

Low glycaemic index diets for coronary heart disease

The glycaemic index is a measure of the ability of a carbohydrate to affect blood glucose levels. While there are many randomised controlled trials that have examined the relationship between low glycaemic index diets and coronary heart disease, most are of poor methodological quality. There is little evidence from the randomised controlled trials to recommend that healthcare professionals should prescribe low glycaemic index diets for the purpose of improving risk factors for CHD.

Yoga for secondary prevention of coronary heart disease

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is a major cause of early cardiovascular‐related illness and death in most developed countries. Secondary prevention is a term used to describe interventions that aim to prevent repeat cardiac events and death in people with established CHD. Individuals with CHD are at the highest risk of coronary events and death. Lifestyle modifications play an important role in secondary prevention. Yoga has been regarded as both a type of physical activity and a stress management strategy. The physical and psychological benefits of yoga are well accepted, yet inappropriate practice of yoga may lead to musculoskeletal injuries, such as muscle soreness and strain. The aim of this systematic review was to determine the effectiveness of yoga for secondary prevention in CHD in terms of cardiac events, death, and health‐related quality of life. We found no randomised controlled trials which met the inclusion criteria for this review. Therefore, the effectiveness of yoga for secondary prevention in CHD remains uncertain. High‐quality randomised controlled trials are needed.

Wholegrain cereals for coronary heart disease

Wholegrain foods encompass a range of products and examples are wholegrain wheat, rice, maize and oats. The term wholegrain also includes milled wholegrains such as oatmeal and wholemeal wheat. The evidence found by this review is limited to wholegrain oats, and to changes in lipids as an outcome. There is a lack of studies on other wholegrain foods or diets. There is some evidence from this review that oatmeal foods can beneficially lower lipid levels such as low density lipoproteins (LDL) cholesterol and total cholesterol in those previously diagnosed with risk factors for coronary heart disease (CHD) even with relatively short interventions. However, the results should be interpreted with caution because the trials found are small, of short duration and many were commercially funded. No studies were found that reported the effect of wholegrain foods or diets on deaths from, or occurrence of CHD.

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Terms to know

Atherosclerosis
Atherosclerosis is a disease in which plaque builds up inside your arteries. Arteries are blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood to your heart and other parts of your body.
Coronary Artery
A principal artery that originates in the aorta. It supplies blood to the muscular tissue of the heart.
Heart
The hollow, muscular organ that maintains the circulation of the blood.
Oxygen
A colorless, odorless gas. It is needed for animal and plant life. Oxygen that is breathed in enters the blood from the lungs and travels to the tissues.
Plaque
In medicine, a small, abnormal patch of tissue on a body part or an organ. Plaques may also be a build-up of substances from a fluid, such as cholesterol in the blood vessels.

More about Coronary Heart Disease

Photo of an adult

Also called: Coronary arteriosclerosis, Arteriosclerotic heart disease, Coronary artery disease, Coronary sclerosis, Arteriosclerotic coronary artery disease, Atherosclerotic heart disease, CAD, ASHD

See Also: Heart Attack, Angina

Other terms to know: See all 5
Atherosclerosis, Coronary Artery, Heart

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