Coronary Heart Disease


Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) is when your coronary arteries (the arteries that supply your heart muscle with oxygen-rich blood) become narrowed by a gradual build-up of fatty material within their walls (BHF 2016)


Giving patients more choice about how, when and where they receive treatment was one cornerstone of the Government’s Health Strategy


Reducing CHD in the population


Healthy eating

A healthy diet can help reduce your risk of developing coronary heart disease and stop you gaining weight, reducing your risk of diabetes and high blood pressure.


It can also help lower your cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of some cancers. Even if you already have a heart condition, a healthy diet can benefit your heart.


A balanced diet

Everyone should aim for a well balanced diet. Faddy crash diets may not provide the balance of nutrients you need. The best way to understand it is to think of foods in food groups.

  • plenty of fruit and vegetables
  • plenty of starchy foods such as bread, rice, potatoes and pasta, choose wholegrain varieties wherever possible
  • some milk and dairy products
  • some meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein
  • only a small amount of foods and drinks high in fats and/or sugar


Choose options that are lower in fatsalt and sugar whenever you can.


Fruit and vegetables

A well-balanced diet should include at least 5 portions of fruit and veg a day. Try to vary the types of fruit and veg you eat. They can be fresh, frozen, dried or tinned. Pure unsweetened fruit juice, pulses and beans count as a portion, but they only make up a maximum of one of your five a day, however much you eat in one day.


A portion is about a handful (80g or 3oz), for example:

  • 4 broccoli florets
  • 1 pear
  • 3 heaped tablespoons of carrots
  • 7-8 strawberries


To help look after your heart health it is important to make sure you choose the right type of fats


Replace saturated fats with small amounts of mono and polyunsaturated fats,

  • cutting down on foods containing trans fats. It’s also important to remember that all fats and oils are high in calories, so even the unsaturated fats should only be used in small amounts.


Eating too much salt can increase the risk of developing high blood pressure



If you drink alcohol, it’s important to keep within the recommended guidelines



Staying active


Physical activity can help reduce your risk of heart disease. It can also help you control your weight, reduce blood pressure and cholesterol and improve your mental health – helping you to look and feel great.


  1. Start small
  2. Be realistic about your goals
  3. Make exercise part of your day
  4. Keep moving
  5. You don’t have to go it alone
  6. Make sure you get plenty of variety
  7. Set reminders where you can see them
  8. Keep an eye on your progress
  9. Reward yourself



Quitting smoking is the single best thing you can do for your heart health. If you’re a smoker, stopping smoking is the single most  important step you can take to protect the health of your heart.


Smokers are almost twice as likely to have a heart attack compared with people who have never smoked.


Stopping smoking has huge benefits and it’s never too late to give up.


Stopping smoking is the single best thing you can do for your heart health, and the good news is that the risk to your heart health decreases significantly soon after you stop.


By quitting you’ll be improving your own health by dramatically reducing your risk of coronary heart diseasestroke and a variety of cancers. You’ll feel better, and have more money to spend on other things that you enjoy.


Smoking increases the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, which includes coronary heart disease and stroke.

  • The carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood. This means your heart has to pump harder to supply the body with the oxygen it needs.
  • The nicotine in cigarettes stimulates your body to produce adrenaline, which makes your heart beat faster and raises your blood pressure, making your heart work harder.
  • Your blood is more likely to clot, which increases your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.  Take a look at our cardiovascular disease page to find out more about blood clots and the damage they can do to your body.


NHS Smoking Helpline

In England 0800 434 6677

In Wales 0800 085 2219

In Scotland 0800 84 84 84

In Northern Ireland 0808 812 8008


Practical tips to help you stop smoking

  • * Make a date to give up – and stick to it!
  • * Throw away all your tobacco, lighters and ashtrays
  • * Make a plan (think about what could help you stop smoking)
  • * Think smart and download or order the BHF stop smoking booklet
  • * Get support and let your family and friends know that you’re quitting
  • * Keep busy to help take your mind off cigarettes
  • * Try to change your routine

Managing your weight


Your weight can make a real difference to your risk of heart disease.


Research shows that reaching and keeping to a healthy weight cuts your risk of heart disease because it helps prevent and manage conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes that put you at greater risk of coronary heart</a>, or enable JavaScript if it is disabled in your browser.</div></div>

There are two main ways to tell whether you need to lose weight:

Body Mass Index (BMI), and your Waist Measurement.


To work out your BMI you will need to know your height and weight.  To work out your waist measurement you will need a tape measure.

Calculate your BMI with our BMI calculator


Waist Measurement

You can work out if you’re at increased risk by simply measuring your waist. Find the bottom of your ribs and the top of your hips, and measure around your middle at a point mid-way between these. For many people this will be at the level of the tummy button. Remember not to breathe in!

  Increased risk Severe risk
Men (white European) over 94cm (37”)  over 102cm (40”)
Men (African-Caribbean, South Asian and some other minority ethnic groups)    over 90cm (35.5”)
Women (white European) over 80cm (32”)  over 88cm (35”)
Women (African-Caribbean, South Asian and some other minority ethnic groups)    over 80cm (32”)



If your BMI and waist circumference indicate that you are overweight and/or at increased risk, don’t panic – making simple changes to your lifestyle can help you lose weight. Eating well and being physically active can help you manage your weight and keep your heart healthy.


Cardiac Rehabilitation


Cardiac rehabilitation is a programme of exercise and information sessions to help you get back on your feet again after a heart attack, heart surgery or procedure.


The sessions will give you and your family the information, support and advice you need to get back to everyday life as efficiently and successfully as possible.

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Cardiac rehabilitation programmes will help you to:

  • understand your condition
  • recover from your surgery, procedure or heart attack
  • make changes to your lifestyle that will help improve your heart health
  • reduce the risk of further heart problems.

Cardiac rehabilitation is available to anyone who has had a heart condition and/or heart surgery, for example:


Cardiac rehabilitation starts as soon as you go into hospital for heart surgery or treatment, or after you’ve had a heart attack.


A member of the cardiac rehabilitation team will normally visit you on the ward to provide you with information about your condition, the treatment you’ve had and your recovery. This will help you get back to your usual activities as soon as possible.


You should also be invited to join a cardiac rehabilitation programme starting about four to eight weeks after you leave hospital.


Cardiac rehabilitation can improve health outcomes and quality of life in people with coronary heart disease. The evidence suggests that when people are offered comprehensive and tailored help with lifestyle modification, involving education and psychological input as well as exercise training, cardiac rehabilitation can make a substantial difference.


The multidisciplinary Cardiac Rehabilitation Team is based in the Heart and Lung Centre at New Cross Hospital. The team offers a variety of clinics and programmes (Education, Exercise and Stress Management) at New Cross Hospital and Cannock Chase Hospital, as well as in the Community. The role of the team is to help patients understand their illness and future treatment, to provide support, to improve patients’ success in making appropriate

lifestyle changes and to help them return to a full and as normal a life as possible.


Education Sessions

Monthly Education Sessions are held at New Cross and Cannock Chase Hospitals’ for patients and their families. We informally discuss a wide range of topics, including:

  • An explanation of Coronary Heart Disease
  • An explanation of cardiac investigations
  • The benefits of exercise
  • Healthy eating
  • Medication
  • First aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation
  • Stress and relaxation


Please, contact the Cardiac Rehabilitation Team for dates of future meetings.

01902 694226


Exercise Programmes

The Cardiac Rehabilitation Team supervises exercise sessions for patients at New Cross and Cannock Chase Hospitals’ and in local leisure centres.


Following an initial assessment by an exercise specialist each patient is given an individualised exercise plan. Patients are expected to complete an eight to twelve week course of exercise, attending for two sessions per week.


Each exercise session lasts between 45 to 60 minutes. At the end of the course of exercise patients undergo a further assessment, following which there is the opportunity to join our long-term exercise sessions to build upon or maintain their new fitness levels. These sessions are also supervised.


Please, contact the Cardiac Rehabilitation Team for details on how to join the exercise programmes: 01902 694226



Stress Management Programme

The Cardiac Rehabilitation Team runs a Stress Management Programme at New Cross Hospital for patients and their families. It involves attending once a week for four weeks. The aims of the programme are to:

  • Understand and recognise stress in your life
  • Develop strategies to deal with it
  • Use conventional relaxation techniques
  • Introduce you to alternative methods of dealing with stress



Weight Management Programme

The Cardiac Rehabilitation Team works in partnership with the ‘Department of Nutrition and Dietetics’ to run the Weight Management Programme. Patients are assessed by a Cardiac Rehabilitation Exercise Specialist prior to joining the programme.


The programme comprises of a supervised exercise session twice a week, plus attending a one and a half-hour education session with a Dietician once a week to learn more about healthy eating.


Please, contact the Cardiac Rehabilitation Team for details on how to join the Weight Management Programme: 01902 694226.



Cardiac Rehabilitation and The Wolverhampton Coronary Aftercare Support Group (WCASG)

The Cardiac Rehabilitation Team and The Wolverhampton Coronary Aftercare Support Group (WCASG) work in partnership to provide continued support to patients in the form of long term supervised exercise classes in local leisure centres and access to ‘Patient Friends’.


01902 694226