In another of our useful guides to the conditions that qualify our customers for VAT exemption, Lifeline24 takes a look at coronary heart disease (CHD), also known as coronary artery disease or ischaemic heart disease.
It is the leading cause of death worldwide, and results in over 70,000 deaths each year in the UK.
What is Coronary Heart Disease?
CHD is caused by a condition called atheroschlerosis, which is the build-up of a fatty substance called atheroma on the walls of the coronary arteries. The coronary arteries supply your heart with oxygen-rich blood, so if the build-up of atheroma becomes too severe, it can prevent your heart from receiving the oxygenated blood it needs.
There are three main symptoms of CHD, all of them severe:
- Angina – chest pains caused by the partial blockage of the coronary arteries. Strenuous physical activity or stress can cause an ‘angina attack’, during which the symptoms are much more pronounced.
- Heart Failure – a weakening of the heart that prevents it from pumping blood around the body effectively. It can occur gradually or suddenly, and can lead to a build-up of fluid in the lungs, making it hard to breath.
- Heart Attacks – caused when a piece of the atheroma lining the coronary arteries dislodges and blocks the flow of blood completely, starving the heart of oxygen. Their symptoms are similar to those of angina (chest pains, nausea, breathlessness) but much more severe.
There are a number of contributing factors to CHD, many of them to do with lifestyle choices:
- Physical inactivity
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
There are, however, a number of factors that can’t be helped. Men, for example, are much more likely than women to suffer from CHD. CHD is the cause of death for around 17% of men, but only 10% of women. Equally, being above the age of 50 increases the chances of suffering from the condition.
Though there is no cure for CHD, treatment can be used to minimise the risk of more severe symptoms like heart attacks, and to alleviate the more minor but uncomfortable symptoms.
The simplest forms are simple lifestyle changes like increasing physical activity, giving up smoking and eating more healthily.
There are a wide range of drug treatments for CHD, each tackling different contributors for the disease. Antiplatelets, for example, thin the blood to minimise the risk of a fatal clot blocking narrowed arteries. Cholesterol can be lowered with statins, blood pressure with beta-blockers.
In severe cases, doctors may recommend surgery. An angioplasty involves inserting a stent (a mesh tube) into the artery to hold it open. Some blockages may require a bypass, where a section of artery is grafted between the hearts main artery (the aorta) and a section of the vessel beyond the blockage. Of course, the most serious cases may necessitate a heart transplant, in which the heart is removed and replaced with a health donor organ.
If you have coronary heart disease then you qualify for VAT Exemption when you order a personal alarm system from Lifeline24. HMRC state that a product which has been “designed or adapted for a disability” qualifies for VAT exemption.
For a person to qualify they must meet certain criteria set by HMRC. These criteria state that the customer must have a long-term illness, a terminal illness or a disability in order to qualify.
Remember to always consult a medical professional if you are worried about your health or are planning to make lifestyle changes.
Sources – NHS and British Heart Foundation