THE word coronary refers to the small blood vessels that keep the heart muscle supplied with the oxygen and nutrients that it needs.
Changes in the coronary arteries can build up over many years and lead to angina and heart attacks.
The last ten years have seen enormous advances in the treatment of coronary heart disease. These include new drugs such as the 'clot-busters' used after a heart attack, better drugs for angina and powerful cholesterol-lowering drugs.
Some of the older drugs, such as beta-blockers and aspirin, can also help in relieving symptoms and in slowing down or even reversing some of the changes seen in the disease.
The biggest advances, however, have been in the use of surgery and angioplasty. Bypass surgery can transform the life of an angina sufferer and in some cases also reduces the risk of further heart attacks.
Angioplasty, a technique in which tiny balloons are used to stretch narrowed or blocked arteries, can also be very effective.
Despite these advances, however, coronary heart disease is still one of the most common causes of death in the UK, and prevention remains better than cure. …