Smoking affects your heart health by:
- reducing the level of HDL (good) cholesterol
- making cholesterol more sticky and more likely to stick to the inside of artery walls
- increasing heart rate
- constricting & damaging arteries
- reducing available oxygen
NICE Lipid Modification Guidance has been revised to enable doctors to offer statin treatment to people at lower 10 year risk but high lifetime risk of CVD. See our responses to the questions this raises.
How healthy is your heart?
It is now possible to estimate when someone might have their first heart attack. To do this your doctor or other health professional will invite you for an NHS health check.
What is an NHS Health Check?
NHS health checks are a kind of adult MOT. They are made up of a series of questions and tests designed to assess your risk of developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes, kidney disease and certain types of dementia. They are available to people between the ages of 40 and 74, who have not already been diagnosed with one of these conditions or are not already on an “at risk” register.
If you are eligible you should be invited every five years to have your risk assessed. The health professional who conducts your check will put your information and test results into a computer program which calculates your risk. Dependent upon your level of risk you may be offered a statin. Most people will be offered diet and lifestyle advice and some people may be offered some additional support like an exercise program or help to stop smoking or lose weight.
Overall the health check programme could prevent:
• people from becoming diabetic
• early heart attacks and stroke
• premature deaths
• kidney disease
by targeting the some of the main causes of ill health:
• high cholesterol
• raised blood pressure
• excess alcohol
• an unhealthy diet
• obesity, especially apple shaped obesity
How your heart works
Your heart is a special muscle which pumps blood to every part of your body where it delivers oxygen and nutrients. To stay healthy, heart muscle needs its own supply of oxygen and nutrients. Your heart gets its blood supply from the three coronary arteries (left and right coronary artery and the circumflex artery). These arteries divide many times to supply every part of the heart with blood.
Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)
Fatty deposits build up in the coronary arteries over time. This happens faster if you have one or more risk factors such as an inherited risk, a poor diet, or you are inactive or have high blood pressure or smoke.
When coronary arteries become partially blocked by a build up of fatty, cholesterol rich plaques. This can result in angina. A heart attack happens when they become fully blocked. If the blockage is not treated quickly a part of the heart muscle can die.