Cardiovascular disease is a general term that describes conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels. They both make up the cardiovascular system.
The coronary arteries supply blood to the heart. Coronary heart disease (CHD) causes layers of fatty material to build up inside the coronary arteries. This makes the lumen of the arteries more narrow and less elastic. So less blood can flow through and therefore less oxygen will reach the heart.
Less oxygen reaching the heart can put a strain on it because the heart requires oxygen to keep pumping. So it can lead to a heart attack.
Treating coronary heart disease requires either increasing the width of the lumen or lowering blood cholesterol. The two main methods of treatment are:
Stents are expandable tubes that are placed inside the arteries. This holds them open so that blood can keep flowing.
1. A narrow tube with a balloon is inserted into the blocked artery
2. The balloon is inflated to expand the stent against the wall of the artery (this increases the width of the lumen)
3. The tube and balloon are removed from the expanding stent
Cholesterol is an essential lipid but there are two types:
Statins are drugs that can help to reduce the level of LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream. The statins block an enzyme in the liver that is required to produce cholesterol. This lowers the rate at which fatty acids build up, lowering the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD).