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The condition where the heart of the heart become narrowed or blocked by the gradual build-up of fat (cholesterol) within the artery wasll, which reduces blood flow to the heart muscle. This built-up is called 'atherosclerotic plaque' or simply 'plaque'. If the build-up reduces flow only mildly there may be no noticeable symptoms at rest, but these may come in the form of chest pains with increased activity or stress.
Other symptoms that may be experienced are heartburn, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath and heavy sweating.
When flow is significantly reduced and the heart muscle doesn't receive enough blood flow to meet its needs (cardiac ischemia) severe symptoms such as chest pain (angina pectoris), heart attack (myocardial infartion) or rhythm disturbances (arrhythmias) may occur. A heart attack is the result of a completely blocked artery which may damage the heart muscle.
A healthy heart has to pump approximately 1,900 gallons of blood through the circulatory system every day; and to maintain its capabilities a diet low in saturated fats and including omega-3 acids is recommended.
Coronary heart disease is a major cause of mortality in Europe, accounting for around 2 million deaths a year across the continent. Rates are highest in countries of the north and east and lowest in those of the south. The consumption of various fats and oils plus that of red wine are all under constant investigation - cold-pressed olive oil is thought to have serious benefits especially when compared to traditional saturated fats (for long favoured in the north).
Much research is also being done to find out what is special about the diet in Japan, where rates globally amongst the lowest. See'Benecol'®; 'Take Control'®; 'Omega-3 Acids'; 'Plant Stanol Esters'