- An Introduction to Cardiovascular Disease
- Audio Interviews and Stories about Cardiovascular Disease
- Some of the Experts you can hear in this section
- Contact Details
- Real Stories
An Introduction to Cardiovascular Disease
What is cardiovascular disease?
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a term covering all diseases that affect the heart and the blood circulation system. It includes angina, heart attack and stroke. These are symptoms of CVD and are usually caused by the narrowing or blockage of arteries supplying blood to the heart and the brain.
- Coronary heart disease is the UK’s biggest killer.
- One in every four men and one in every six women dies from heart disease.
- Around 300,000 people have a heart attack each year.
- About one in fifty people have angina – roughly 1.2 million people in the UK.
- Strokes are the third largest cause of death in the UK.
- Strokes are the biggest cause of adult disability.
What You’ll Find Out Here
There are many things that give you a greater chance of having heart disease or a stroke. These include high blood pressure, a high cholesterol level, being overweight and smoking. Here you can discover whether you’re at risk and how to lower your risk. You can learn about the symptoms of angina and heart attack and what to do if you experience chest pain. Doctors, nurses and dietitians will talk you through the medicines and other treatments you may come across. They’ll also give detailed advice on some of the tests you might undergo and what you can do to recover from a heart attack. Find out how to exercise safely and how to eat the kinds of food your heart will appreciate.
Click on the chapters below to listen to the interviews
Chapter 1 - An Introduction
Understanding your condition can help you to come to terms with it. On this website we approach Cardiovascular Disease from all angles. We’ve been speaking to cardiologists, doctors and nurses. We’ve also been speaking to people in Barking and Dagenham who have had heart attacks or strokes. Here is a flavour of what you’ll discover if you listen to the pieces on this site.
Chapter 2 - What IS Cardiovascular Disease?
With Dr. Andrew Deaner, Dr. Andrew Archbold
It’s the most common cause of death in the UK. It happens when fatty deposits (called atheroma) build up on the walls of your arteries. Narrowing of the arteries can lead to stroke, angina, heart attack and other problems. Two senior cardiologists explain what happens.
Chapter 3 - Am I at risk?
With Dr. Charles Knight, June Davison, Dr. Andrew Archbold
Some things in life will increase your chances of having a heart attack or a stroke. They’re called risk factors. Some you can do nothing about. Others you can. Find out here whether you’re at risk of CVD.
Chapter 4 - Risk factors in focus – High blood pressure
With Prof. Graham MacGregor, Prof. Mark Caulfield, Dr. Charles Knight
Hypertension doesn’t usually have symptoms. It’s sometimes called the “silent killer”. The British Heart Foundation recommends that your blood pressure level should be below 140/85 mmHg. But you should talk to your doctor about what is an appropriate level for you. If your blood pressure is too high you increase your chances of having a stroke or heart attack. Here’s why.
(For more information on high blood pressure see our pages on Cholesterol and Hypertension)
Chapter 5 - Risk factors in focus – Cholesterol
With Dr. Charles Knight, Dr, Michael Mead, Dr. Andrew Deaner, June Davison
Your body needs cholesterol to work properly and you produce it naturally in your liver. Too much increases your risk of heart disease and stroke. You should “know your number”. But what is cholesterol and why is it bad for us?
(For more information on Cholesterol see our pages on Cholesterol and Hypertension)
Chapter 6 - What is Angina?
With Dr. Charles Knight, Dr. Andrew Archbold
Angina is a sign that something has gone wrong with the blood supply to your heart. An artery has become so narrow that sometime it can’t get enough blood (and oxygen) to your heart. It’s a symptom of Cardiovascular Disease. What does it feel like? How will you recognise it? And is it serious?
Chapter 7 - Going to the doctor
With Dr. J. John
How will your doctor tell if you have angina? Dr. J. John, based in Barking and Dagenham, runs through some of the questions he’d ask you about your chest pain.
Chapter 8 - Tests For Angina
With Dr. Andrew Archbold, Sue Sawyer
How is angina diagnosed? There are several tests you might have – from ECGs to X-Rays and MRI scans to Angiograms. Nurse Sue Sawyer explains how some of them work. The message is, if you’re worried you might have angina ASK YOUR DOCTOR OR NURSE to find out!
Chapter 9 - Treatment for Angina
With Dr. Charles Knight, Dr. Andrew Archbold, Dawn Gough
If you have angina your doctor will probably prescribe one or more drugs. Always talk to your own doctor about what you’re being given and ask as many questions as you can about them. You need to know what you’re being given and why you’re being given it. There are several different categories of drugs you may come across and several drugs within each category. Here are the views of some of our experts. It includes some important advice about using your GTN spray.
(For more information on medication go to Chapter 15)
Chapter 10 - What is a heart attack?
With Dr. Andrew Archbold, Dr. Andrew Deaner, Dr. Charles Knight, Prof. Graham MacGregor
A heart attack happens when a coronary artery becomes completely blocked and cuts off the supply of blood and oxygen to part of your heart. What does it feel like? How will you recognise it? And most important what should you do if you think you’re having a heart attack? Listen to all of these experts and you’ll hear one crucial message.
Chapter 11 - Angioplasty
With Dr. Charles Knight, Dr. Andrew Deaner
If you have had a heart attack, and sometimes if you have angina, you may have a coronary angioplasty (or PCI). It’s a technique to unblock coronary arteries and improve blood supply to the heart. What happens during an angioplasty? What is a stent? Our doctors explain.
Chapter 12 - Coming to terms with a Heart Attack
With Dr. Charles Knight, Dr. Andrew Deaner, Dr. J. John, Dawn Gough
It may be hard to come to terms with having a heart attack. It can be frightening – not just for you but for your family and friends as well. Maybe it’s the first time you’ve thought about your health or growing old. Remember, it’s not (literally!) the end of the world. You can recover and even improve your quality of life – if you make a few simple changes.
Chapter 13 - Cardiac Rehabilitation
With Joy Black
If you’ve had a heart attack it’s important you take part in a cardiac rehabilitation programme. It’s designed to help you get back to normal life as quickly as possible. Joy Black is manager of the Cardiac Rehabilitation service for Barking Havering and Redbridge, based at the King George and Queen’s Hospitals. She explains what to expect from your local services.
Chapter 14 - Cardiac Rehab – Getting Active again
With Joy Black, Mari Fantocchi
This advice is essential if you’ve had a heart attack and very useful if you haven’t. Exercise is a key weapon in preventing heart attacks and strokes. And it’s an essential part of getting back on your feet after having one. Exercise can help you feel better – and live longer!
(You can hear more information and more useful tips about exercise in our pages on Cholesterol and Hypertension and Weight Management)
Chapter 15 - Making sure you exercise safely
With Mari Fantocchi, Joy Black
Make sure you warm up and cool down. Don’t overdo it. And learn what to do if you feel chest pain while you’re exercising.
Chapter 16 - Cardiac Rehab – the other stuff
With Mari Fantocchi
It’s not all hard work! Learn to relax. And find out more about your heart. The more you learn, the more you can protect yourself and your heart. Knowledge if power!
Chapter 17 - The Community Heart Disease Service in Barking and Dagenham
With Dawn Gough
Dawn Gough is lead nurse for the Community Heart Disease Service based at Gray’s Court Community Hospital in Dagenham. Here she explains what it does. You can find contact details on the contact page of this site.
Chapter 18 - Medicines To lower Cholesterol
With Prof. Mark Caulfield, Dr. Charles Knight, Dr. Andrew Deaner
After a heart attack you’ll be given pills to lower your cholesterol. Make sure you talk to your doctor and find out as much as you can about what they do. Statins reduce the amount of cholesterol your body produces. Here’s a brief introduction from our experts.
(Always follow your doctor’s advice about taking medication) (For more information on Cholesterol see our pages on Cholesterol and Hypertension)
Chapter 19 - Medicines to Lower Blood Pressure
With Dr. Michael Mead, Dr. Charles Knight, Dr. Andrew Deaner
There are several classes of drug you may be given and you’ll probably be prescribed more than one type. Your doctor will find the combination that is right for you. Here is a brief guide to some of the names and types you might come across.
(Always follow your doctor’s advice about taking medication) (For more information on high blood pressure see our pages on Cholesterol and Hypertension)
Chapter 20 - The Rest Is Down To You
With Dr. Charles Knight, Dr. Andrew Archbold, Prof. Graham MacGregor, June Davison, Dr. Andrew Deaner
It’s important to take the medicines your doctor gives you. But the best way to recover from – or prevent – a heart attack is to think about your lifestyle. Even small changes to what you eat and the amount of activity you do can make a difference. Listen here for some tips on changing your life for the better.
(For more advice on stopping smoking visit our page on Quitting Smoking)
Chapter 21 - Eating For a Healthy Heart
With Joy Black
Eating the right food can reduce your risk of developing heart disease. A healthy diet can also protect your heart if you’ve already had a heart attack or angina. Eating cleverly can help keep your cholesterol and blood pressure down. Find out as much as you can about what food is good for your heart. Here are some tips to get you started.
(For more information on healthy eating visit our pages on Cholesterol and Hypertension and Weight Management and Diabetes)
Chapter 22 - A Word about salt
With Dr. Charles Knight, Joy Black, Dawn Gough, Prof. Graham MacGregor
Salt is a major risk factor for raised blood pressure. And therefore increases your chance of having a heart attack and especially a stroke. Most of us eat too much of it, often without knowing, because it’s comes in processed food. If your blood pressure is too high your doctor will certainly tell you to eat less.
(You can find out more about a healthy diet for high blood pressure in our page on Cholesterol and Hypertension)
Chapter 23 - Some Facts about FAT
With Prof. Mark Caulfield, Joy Black, June Davison, Prof. Graham MacGregor
Not all fat is bad. But what’s called “saturated” fat can raise your cholesterol and increase your risk of heart attack or stroke. Find out what saturated fat is and try to avoid it where possible.
(You can find out more about a healthy diet for cholesterol in our pages on Cholesterol and Hypertension)
Chapter 24 - Fruit and Veg
With Joy Black, Prof. Mark Caulfield, Dr. Michael Mead
Government guidelines say we should eat five portions a day. Not necessarily as easy as it sounds. Listen here for some advice on how to build fruit and veg into your day and some tips about what a “portion” is.
Chapter 25 - Always Look on the Bright Side of Life
With Dr. J. John, Joy Black
Life doesn’t end just because you’ve had a scare. For some people it can even be the beginning of a new life. Think positive.
Chapter 26 - What is a stroke?
With Dr. Patrick Gompertz
Every five minutes someone in the UK has a stroke. A stroke – or brain attack – happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. It can affect your face, arms, legs, eyes or speech. Here’s a simple test to help you recognise whether somebody is having a stroke.
Chapter 27 - What’s a TIA?
With Dr. Patrick Gompertz
Often called a mini-stroke. A Transient Ischaemic Attack happens when the supply of blood to part of your brain is cut off for a short time. You can make a complete recovery. But it is a medical emergency. How will you know if you’re having a TIA and what should you do?
Chapter 28 - Recovering from a stroke – First Steps
With Dr. Patrick Gompertz
Getting over a stroke is something that will affect your whole family. It involves immediate medical treatment and long-term ongoing rehabilitation. Your recovery may involve a number of drugs and a structured programme of rehabilitation.
Chapter 29 - Recovering from a stroke – Going back Home
With Dr. Patrick Gompertz
Your recovery starts in hospital but a lot of it happens once you get home. It may take weeks or months but the aim is to regain as much independence as possible.
Some of the Experts you can hear in this section
Dr. Charles Knight
Consultant Cardiologist King George Hospital and London Chest Hospital. Head of Cardiology at Barts and the London NHS Trust. Former Clinical Lead for North East London Cardiac and Stroke Network.
Dr. Andrew Deaner
Consultant Cardiologist at King George Hospital and the London Chest Hospital and Honorary President of King of Hearts Cardiac Support Group. Clinical Lead for Barking, Havering and Redbridge Trust.
Professor Mark Caulfield
Runs the High Blood Pressure Service at Barts and the London School of Medicine. Vice President of the British Hypertension Society.
Dr. Michael Mead
GP in Leicester; Medical Advisor to the Blood Pressure Association
Senior Physiotherapist in Cardiac Rehabilitation at Barking Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust based at King George Hospital
Manages Cardiac rehabilitation Service for Barking Havering and Redbridge, based at King George and Queen’s Hospitals
Registered Dietitian, Barking and Dagenham
He’s had three heart attacks and a heart transplant and is founder of the King of Hearts Support Group
GP, Chairman of the National Obesity Forum
GP, co-author of Diabetes for Dummies
Nurse Consultant for Diabetes, team leader Barking and Dagenham area
Senior Podiatrist, Diabetes Lead, Barking and Dagenham
Director of Care, Information and Advocacy, Diabetes UK. He has Type 1 diabetes
Dr. Khash Nikookam
Consultant Endocrinologist at King George Hospital. Clinical lead, Department of Diabetes and Endocrinology
Dr. Edel Casey
Consultant Diabetologist, King George Hospital
Turkish Women’s Association. Runs Healthy Cooking and Healthy Living Group in Barking and Dagenham
Useful contacts and links.
- Heart UK
- 7 North Road
- SL6 1PE
- Heart UK Helpline
- 0845 450 5988
- Open 10.00am – 4.00pm
- Tuesday and Thursday
- Blood Pressure Association
- 60 Cranmer Terrace
- SW17 0QS
- 020 8772 4994
- BPA Information Line
- 0845 241 0989
- Open Monday to Friday
- 11am – 3pm
- British Heart Foundation
- 020 7554 0000
- BHF Heart HelpLine
- 0300 330 3311
- Open Monday to Friday
- 9am – 6pm
- The Stroke Association
- Stroke House
- 240 City Road
- EC1V 2PR
- 020 7566 0300
- Stroke Helpline
- 0845 3033 100
It’s impossible to know what a heart attack is really like until you’ve had one. You’ll get a lot of good advice and help from the doctors and nurses involved in your care. But sometimes the best help of all can come from people who aren’t medically qualified at all but really understand what you’re going through – because they’ve been there themselves.
Tony Roth’s Story - An Incredible Journey
Chapter 1 - Tony’s FIRST Heart Attack
Tony Roth has had THREE heart attacks – the first in his early thirties. He’s also had three lots of by-pass surgery AND a heart transplant. His story is well worth lstening to. Here, he remembers his first attack and describes how he felt about it.
Chapter 2 - Tony’s FIRST Triple By-pass
Tony talks about the operation and his recovery and explains how he found a new lease of life after his first by-pass.
Chapter 3 - Tony’s Third Heart Attack
Tony Roth is a great story-teller. Here he takes us into his life around the time of his third (and most recent) heart attack. He describes how it affected his job and how he was considered for a transplant. This heart attack changed his life more than the previous two.
Chapter 4 - Waiting For A New Heart
What’s it like knowing that somebody has to die in order that you can live? Here Tony describes the range of emotions he went through while waiting for a heart transplant and paints an amazing picture of the day he had the operation.
Chapter 5 - Tony’s Heart Transplant
Listen to Tony Roth describe the actual day of his heart transplant. It’s like being there with him. Every detail and every emotion is remembered vividly. He remembers what the surgeon was wearing, the police escort that got him to hospital just in time - even the fact that his wife brought him the wrong type of fruit after the operation. A gripping story
Chapter 6 - King Of Hearts
Tony Roth helped to found a cardiac support group. It’s called The King Of Hearts, Named after the King George Hospital. Here Tony explains why he did it and how it can help you if you’ve had a heart attack.
Ray Glazer’s Story
Chapter 1 - Ray’s Heart Attack
Ray Glazer had his heart attack in 2005 when he was 56. Here Ray remembers the symptoms and talks about how he felt immediately after the attack.
Chapter 2 - An Emotional Ride
A heart attack affects more than one person. Ray says his wife, Janice, bore the brunt of his attack. The road to recovery can be a long and emotional journey. Here Ray describes how his moods and his attitude to life changed.
Chapter 3 - Getting On With Life
You can recover from a heart attack but your life will change. Ray and his family have had to adjust and it hasn’t all been easy. Here Ray talks about holidays, benefits, driving and all the other things about his life that he’s had to adapt.
Chapter 4 - Last Word
How to make sure you get the answers you want from your healthcare team. Ray Glazer’s Top Tip? ASK QUESTIONS!