Summary of coronary heart disease and stroke

Heart, stroke and vascular diseases, also known as cardiovascular disease, are a major cause of disease burden and death in Australia.

Coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke are common types of cardiovascular disease. 

CHD occurs when there is a narrowing or blockage in the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart muscle. There are 2 major clinical forms – heart attack (also known as acute myocardial infarction) and angina (see Glossary).

Stroke occurs when a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain either suddenly becomes blocked (ischaemic stroke) or ruptures and begins to bleed (haemorrhagic stroke). Either may result in part of the brain dying, leading to sudden impairment that can affect a number of functions. Stroke often causes paralysis of parts of the body normally controlled by the area of the brain affected by the stroke or speech problems and other symptoms, such as difficulties with swallowing, vision and thinking.

Both CHD and stroke are largely preventable and their impact on our health system is substantial.