Heart Conditions

The heart is a specialised muscle that pumps blood throughout the body. It pumps blood to itself via the coronary arteries. The rate and rhythm of the heartbeat is controlled by a specialised electrical conduction system. Within the heart chambers, there are heart valves to prevent blood flowing in the wrong direction. Problems arising from any of these heart components (muscle pump, coronary arteries, electrical conduction system, heart valves) can lead to a heart condition that causes significant symptoms and important illness.

Coronary Artery Disease

Atherosclerosis literally means “hardening of the arteries” and occurs as a result of thickening of the walls of an artery from a build up of fatty deposits. These fatty deposits are also known as plaques. 

Atherosclerosis can occur in many different arteries, but when this occurs in the arteries that supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart, it is known as coronary artery disease.

Coronary artery disease may be present for decades without causing any symptoms or signs of the condition. A number of conditions can increase the risk of developing atherosclerosis: tobacco smoking, high blood cholesterol levels, high blood pressure (hypertension), and diabetes.

When plaque causes severe narrowing of a coronary artery, you might develop symptoms of angina. Coronary plaque can also lead to heart attack.