Preventing coronary heart disease

Preventing coronary heart disease


Hello. Paul Zollinger Read. I’m the Chief
Medical Officer at Bupa and I want to talk to you today about heart disease. Specifically,
how to prevent heart disease. Now, your heart is a muscle. And just like
any other muscle it needs a supply of oxygen rich blood to work properly. It receives its
own blood supply through the coronary arteries and their branches which lie on the surface
of the heart. What happens in heart disease is they silt
up. They get these things called plaques in them. Now if they generally silt up, then
people can get what’s called angina, chest pain which typically comes on when they walk
up a hill or they eat. But occasionally you can get narrowing’s that
then burst. Those plaques rupture. And then an artery gets blocked and you have a heart
attack. But what are the things that create and cause and aggravate heart disease? And
if we look at them in turn, smoking is probably one of the most significant factors. Absolutely
no doubt about that. In fact, when the smoking ban was brought in, in public places, we saw
a really significant fall in the incidence of heart attacks. And that happened within
six to nine months. So we know, smoking causes heart disease and can precipitate heart attacks.
The next one is blood pressure. The tricky thing about blood pressure is you don’t know
you’ve got it. So, it’s a really good idea to get your blood pressure checked. It’s easy
to do and now, more and more people are doing it themselves.
The other is blood sugar, diabetes. If you have diabetes, you are at much greater risk
of heart disease. And the most important thing there is that you really focus hard and keep
your blood sugar under control. You follow your doctor’s advice, you take the medications
or if you’re on diet, you stick to that diet. It’s rare for people to be put on treatment
for cholesterol if they don’t have a family history. But it’s not unheard of. Because
if your cholesterol has a lot of bad and very little good, your doctor might decide to put
you on cholesterol lowering tablets known as statins.
Then we look at diet itself. Now those plaques I talked about are formed by cholesterol.
And cholesterol, there are many types but essentially there’s what we call a good type
which is called HDL and there’s a bad type, LDL. So, when you get your cholesterol tested,
it’s important to know how much good you’ve got because good reduces heart disease and
how much bad you’ve got. Exercise is crucial and it’s interesting isn’t
it because you think of exercise as oh, I’m losing weight but actually that’s not the
mechanism. So when I exercise I know my good cholesterol goes up and my bad cholesterol
goes down. And what we’ve found out is, it actually has a big anti-inflammatory affect.
So these little plaques are inflamed and you exercising reduces that inflammation. Now
you don’t need to do a great deal. Three or four times a week, 15 to 30 minutes, brisk
walking. You don’t need to be a marathon runner. The other thing is alcohol. Now, we all know
alcohol is bad for you in large quantities but there’s no doubt that one or two units
a day is good for heart disease. It has a positive effect on reducing heart disease.
So, there’s lots you can do to prevent heart disease. If you’re at all concerned, go and
see your doctor and get those tests done. And if you’ve got a family history, really
take it seriously.