Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) is an umbrella term for all diseases relating to the heart and circulation (blood vessels). It includes everything from conditions that are inherited or that a person is born with, to those that develop later in life due to age or lifestyle, such as coronary heart disease, atrial fibrillation, heart failure, stroke and vascular dementia.
According to the British Heart Foundation (BHF, 2022):
- “Around 7.6 million people are living with heart and circulatory diseases in the UK – an ageing and growing population and improved survival rates from heart and circulatory events could see these numbers rise still further.
- Around 4 million males and 3.6 million females are living with heart and circulatory diseases in the UK.
- Heart and circulatory diseases cause around a quarter of all deaths in the UK; that’s more than 160,000 deaths each year, or 460 each day – that’s one death every three minutes.
- Around 47,000 people under the age of 75 in the UK die from heart and circulatory diseases each year.”
Coronary Heart Disease
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the most common type of heart and circulatory disease. It occurs when coronary arteries become narrowed by a build-up of atheroma, a fatty material within their walls. The pain or discomfort felt from such narrowing is called angina and if a blockage occurs it can cause a myocardial infarction (heart attack).
“CHD is responsible for around 64,000 deaths in the UK each year, an average of 175 people each day, or one death around every eight minutes.
In the UK, one in eight men and one in 15 women die from coronary heart disease.” (BHF, 2022).
Over a while, the walls of your blood vessels, your arteries may become furred up with fatty deposits. This process is known as atherosclerosis and the deposits of fat are called atheroma. Atherosclerosis can be caused by various lifestyle factors including smoking, excessive alcohol use or a poor diet.
Unfortunately, your risk of developing atherosclerosis increases if you have conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and more (Torpy et al., 2009).
Fortunately, according to Kannel (2007) exposure to modifiable factors (mostly regarding lifestyle changes) can help reduce the risk of CHD.
In the UK, arrhythmia (heart rhythm problems) is experienced by more than 2million people. Most can lead a normal life if it is properly diagnosed (NHS, 2021).
The main types of arrhythmias are (National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, 2022):
- Tachycardia: A fast heart rhythm with a rate of more than 100 beats per minute
- Bradycardia: A slow heart rhythm with a rate below 60 beats per minute
- Supraventricular arrhythmias: Arrhythmias that begin in the atria (the heart’s upper chambers)
- Ventricular arrhythmias: Arrhythmias that begin in the ventricles (the heart’s lower chambers)
- Bradyarrhythmias: Slow heart rhythms that may be caused by disease in the heart’s conduction system
This disease can affect people of all age groups; however, they are more common in older people. Things like excessive alcohol use or being overweight/obese can increase your likelihood of developing arrhythmia. Additionally, if you have had a heart attack or heart failure previously you may develop arrhythmia.
Common triggers for arrhythmia can be viral illnesses, smoking, alcohol, caffeinated drinks, exercise or certain drug use. In the UK alone, arrhythmia is responsible for 100,000 deaths among people with other heart conditions. Some of these deaths could be prevented with earlier diagnosis. (NHS, 2021).
Heart attacks (myocardial infarction) were mentioned in the section about coronary heart disease. A heart attack is a condition wherein the supply of blood to the heart is suddenly, most commonly by a blood clot.
A lack of blood supply to the heart can cause serious damage to the heart and potentially be life-threatening.
The biggest cause of heart attacks is coronary heart disease. This is because the fatty deposits in the blood vessels may burst and cause a clot to form in the area where the rupture occurred. The clot may block the blood supply and result in a heart attack.
Symptoms of a heart attack may be one or a few of the following:
- Chest pain
- Pain in other parts of your body
- Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea or vomiting
- Coughing or wheezing
Usually, the chest pain is severe, however, some people may experience minor pain which can lead to more serious consequences as people may ignore it.
What can you do to prevent heart disease?
There are a few things that are within your control that will help reduce your risk of developing heart disease. The UK Government website (2019) recommends the following:
- Diet: Eating a more balanced diet; including more vegetables and fruit, fibre, oily fish. Reduce your intake of salt, saturated fat and sugary foods.
- Alcohol: Cutting down on the amount of alcohol you drink will help reduce blood pressure as well as other heart diseases.
- Smoking: Quitting smoking will be beneficial not only in reducing the risk of various heart diseases but also in reducing the risk of developing lung cancer, and other lung issues.
- Exercise: being physically active including at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity across a week or a mixture of moderate and vigorous activity
Private Health Check-up at Echelon Health
Longevity is the goal of our lives; we all want to enjoy a long time with our friends and family. However, most of us may not notice any symptoms of heart disease until it is too late. Luckily at Echelon Health, we can combine the best imaging technology and years of medical expertise to detect up to 94% of diseases that may lead to premature death.
Our Healthy Heart assessment comprises of the following scans, and is fantastic if you wish to explore your heart health in amazing detail:
- Comprehensive Blood Tests which look at over 40 parameters
- ECG records the sinus rhythm and electrical activity of the heart
- CT Heart that examines your overall heart arteries for calcium deposition, the earliest signs of any ‘furring up’
- CT Coronary Angiogram directly visualises the inside of your heart arteries to determine the exact location and severity of any atheroma. The CTCA is unique in its ability to visualise so-called ‘soft’ plaque which is the most vulnerable to rupturing and causing a heart attack
These tests help detect various heart diseases including coronary heart disease, atherosclerosis and more. When it comes to our Healthy Heart assessment, we provide the gold standard. Nothing in the assessment is based on statistical risk analysis; the tests look inside the individual and provide them with personal insight into their own body. Preventive Health Assessments are important even if you are symptom-free.
Additionally, we pride ourselves on our flagship Platinum Assessment which can detect up to 92% of preventable causes of death in men and up to 95% in women using a combination of the best imaging technology available worldwide today, specialist radiologists who are experts in their field and using the right scanning modalities for the relevant disease.
The following scans and tests are included in our Platinum Health Assessment:
- Blood Tests
- CT Aorta
- CT Heart
- CT Coronary Angiogram
- CT Chest
- CT Pelvis
- CT Virtual Colonoscopy
- CT Bone Density
- CT Upright Skeleton
- MRI Brain
- MRI Cerebral Artery Angiogram
- MRI Carotid Artery Angiogram
- MRI Prostate
- Ultrasound Thyroid
- Ultrasound Testes/ Ovaries
- Digital Mammogram
- Full Body Mole Screen
Through these tests, we are able to look at your body in incredible detail and cover not just the main organs of your body (brain, heart, lungs) but also many other areas that you may have not considered a risk.
If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact our team or check out our brochure for more information on all the health assessments offered by Echelon Health.
BHF (2022). Facts and figures. Available at: https://www.bhf.org.uk/what-we-do/news-from-the-bhf/contact-the-press-office/facts-and-figures#:~:text=There%20are%20around%207.6%20million,common%20type%20of%20heart%20disease (accessed 14/03/2022)
Torpy, J. M., Burke, A. E., & Glass, R. M. (2009). Coronary heart disease risk factors. Jama, 302(21), 2388-2388.
Kannel, W. B. (2007). Coronary heart disease risk factors in the elderly. The American journal of geriatric cardiology, 11(2), 101-107.
NHS (2021). Arrhythmia. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/arrhythmia/ (accessed 14/03/2022)
National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (2022). Arrhythmia. Available at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/arrhythmia#:~:text=The%20main%20types%20of%20arrhythmia,conduction%20disorders%20are%20covered%20separately. (accessed 15/03/2022)
Mayo Clinic (2020). Heart attack. Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-attack/symptoms-causes/syc-20373106 (accessed 14/03/2022)
Gov.uk (2019). Health matters: preventing cardiovascular disease. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/health-matters-preventing-cardiovascular-disease/health-matters-preventing-cardiovascular-disease (accessed 14/03/2022)