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Coronary heart disease

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Coronary heart disease (CHD) is caused the build up of fatty deposits in the arteries, which can cause clogging and lead to restricted blood flow, which will damage the heart. CHD is the number one killer in the United Kingdom1. In 1991 alone, it caused the death of around 171,000 people, a quarter of who were still under the age of 651. Another problem is that this disease has not shown any signs of it decreasing amongst the population.

There are 5 main risk factors1 which can contribute towards CHD which are:

1. Hypertension

2. Smoking

3. Diabetes

4. High cholesterol

5. Family history of heart disease.

Other minor risk factors include lack of regular exercise, stress and type A personalities (impatient, aggressive, competitive).

If the government wants to tackle CHD, they need to target the major causes individually.

The first major cause listed is hypertension, or high blood pressure. This can be affected by a series of factors such as a lack of exercise and a high salt diet. This tends to be a large problem in this country in particular due to many people now choosing to eat ready-made meals or processed food from supermarkets, which usually have a high salt content3.

These ready-made meals tend to be unhealthy and give the person an unbalanced diet. In order for this problem to be overcome, the government should aim to persuade supermarkets to regulate the salt content in their processed food, as well as launching campaigns to encourage more exercise in people’s lifestyles. By improving the general health of a person and reducing the blood pressure, this will help reduce the risks of CHD. The government could also target those with pre-existing hypertension by encouraging and setting guidelines for GPs to manage the high blood pressure by medications, such as diuretics, ACE-inhibitors, and Beta-blockers5.

The second major cause is smoking, which can not only lead to CHD, but a variety of other diseases and cancers, especially lung cancer4. Smoking has many ill-effects on the body. One of the greatest of these threats is atherosclerosis. This is the build up of fatty substances in the arteries and can lead to great damage to the walls of the blood vessels6.

Smoking also contributes to many other diseases and illnesses such as cancers and breathing difficulties4. Because the cigarette industry is such big business in the country and smoking being very common, there are a great deal of things the government are able to do in order to discourage people from smoking and promote a healthier lifestyle. One thing that could be introduced, which is already beginning to be put into action, is the banning of smoking in public places so that not only will the public be cutting down on the amount they smoke, but also the incidence of passive smoking will be greatly reduced.

In order to dissuade people from smoking, the tax could be increased on packs of cigarettes, making them more expensive. These schemes are mainly aimed at smokers themselves, but not at the non-smokers and those who aren’t fully aware of the full extent that smoking can affect the body to. Therefore, another major project that should be considered is to increase public awareness of what smoking can do to the body and the diseases it can cause. This has already been introduced recently by television adverts and posters which show quite graphically the end products of atherosclerosis. Other ways is by having health promotion programmes and community projects.

As there are already many products available which will provide an alternative to cigarettes, then these should be publicised more and people encouraged to use these when they can. After introducing methods to stop or reduce smoking, the current sufferers of CHD due to smoking should also be aimed at. Because smoking causes atherosclerosis, which will lead to CHD, then more money should be invested into the development and manufacture of drugs to help reduce the clogging of the arteries.

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