Cardiovascular diseases – heart attack and stroke

Caused by the buildup of cholesterol and other fatty substances within the body’s arteries.

A doctor holding a model of clogged arteries

Cholesterol causes an artery to become narrow, restricting blood flow to the organ it is supplying.

If this happens in the coronary arteries it is known as coronary heart disease.

Heart attack

  1. Cholesterol builds up in a coronary artery
  2. The artery becomes narrower as a blockage/clot forms
  3. Blood flow is restricted
  4. The heart muscle is starved of glucose and oxygen
  5. Respiration is reduced or stopped.
  6. Heart cells die.

Stroke

  1. Cholesterol builds up in an artery in the brain
  2. The artery becomes narrower as a blockage/clot forms
  3. Blood flow is restricted
  4. Part of the brain is starved of glucose and oxygen
  5. Respiration is reduced or stopped.
  6. Brain cells die.
  7. A stroke can cause reduced brain function (e.g. paralysis).

Prevention

Lifestyle changes can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases:

  • Reduce fat intake
  • Stop smoking
  • Reduce stress
  • Increase exercise