The coronary arteries and heart disease 

Find out how the heart works and what happens when your coronary arteries stop functioning properly due to high cholesterol or smoking.

Learn about coronary heart disease

Transcript of The coronary arteries and heart disease


The main function of the heart is to pump blood around the body,

at about 70 beats per minute.

Just like any other muscle in the body, it needs a blood supply.

This is provided by the right and left coronary arteries.


In a healthy heart, blood flow through these narrow arteries is free.

But in coronary heart disease, it becomes restricted.

Coronary arteries provide oxygen-rich blood to the heart

and are lined on their inner surface by a thin layer of cells.

This inner lining can be injured due to high cholesterol levels,

high blood pressure, smoking and other factors.

When the layer of cells is damaged,

fatty deposits begin to build up on the inner walls of the arteries.

The fatty build-up reduces blood flow

and eventually causes the arteries to narrow,

a process called atherosclerosis.


If even one part of your coronary arteries narrows,

the heart muscles supplied by that artery

may no longer receive enough oxygen to work efficiently.

This can cause chest pain, known as angina, usually treated by medication.

But this does not always prevent the pain in some patients.

If one of your coronary arteries becomes blocked,

blood supply to part of your heart is cut off.

If left untreated long enough,

this can result in damage or death of heart muscle tissue.

This is what happens in a heart attack.

In order to prevent this,

heart surgery is sometimes performed to bypass blockages

and improve the flow of blood to your heart.


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