LONDON, September 8 /PRNewswire/ --

Over half the public are still ignorant about coronary heart disease (CHD) - the UK's leading killer disease, research launched at the British Pharmaceutical Conference (BPC) in Manchester has shown.

Pharmacy researchers from Queen's University in Belfast found an alarming 48% of people failed to define CHD, recognise its symptoms or identify its risk factors.

CHD is the leading cause of death in Northern Ireland (17%) and in the UK (17%)(1). The two main forms of CHD are heart attack and severe chest pain (angina). Symptoms include shortness of breath, irregular heart beat (or palpitations), chest pain, jaw or arm pain (particularly during exercise), and dizziness or fainting. Risk factors for CHD include smoking, poor diet, being overweight or obese, failing to do enough exercise, drinking too much alcohol, stress and/or social isolation, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

The study highlighted the need to educate the public about the disease, because many of the risk factors for CHD are preventable(2) and increased knowledge could lead to patients who are at risk making important lifestyle changes(3).

Head researcher Yazid Al Hamarneh, said: "Community pharmacists can provide expert advice and support on how to stop smoking, lose weight and make other lifestyle changes that will dramatically reduce the chances of developing CHD.

"Pharmacists are among the most accessible healthcare professionals, being conveniently located on the high street and you don't need an appointment to speak with one. Pharmacies are also often open outside normal business hours."

Notes to Editors

About Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)

Coronary heart disease is the term that describes what happens when the heart's blood supply is blocked, or interrupted, by a build up of fatty substances in the coronary arteries. Over time, the walls of the arteries can become furred up with fatty deposits. This process is known as atherosclerosis, and the fatty deposits are called atheroma. If the coronary arteries become narrow, due to a build up of atheroma, the blood supply to the heart will be restricted. This can cause angina (chest pains). If a coronary artery becomes completely blocked, it can cause a heart attack. The medical term for a heart attack is myocardial infarction.

Coronary heart disease is the UK's biggest killer, with one in every four men, and one in every six women dying from the disease. In the UK, approximately 300,000 people have a heart attack each year. ( )

About the British Pharmaceutical Conference 2008 (BPC)

BPC 2008: Pharmacy in the 21st Century: Adding years to life and life to years. In 2008, as the NHS marks its 60th anniversary year, BPC will examine how pharmacy and the pharmaceutical services are helping to add years to life and life to the year of the UK population. The profession of pharmacy plays an important role in meeting the healthcare challenges associated with the UK's ageing population.

How can pharmacists contribute to caring for the population as well as ensuring quality of life? Increasingly, scientists and practitioners have to consider the cost implications of this conundrum, and the evidence base for all interventions is becoming of paramount importance: BPC 2008 will debate these issues and open up discussion on them.


The main sponsors of BPC 2008 are: Boots The Chemists (Lead Sponsor), AstraZeneca (Associate Sponsor and BPC-PJ Careers Forum Platinum Sponsor), Pharmacists' Defence Association (PDA) (Associate Sponsor) and GSK (BPC-PJ Careers Forum Platinum Sponsor).

Research released at BPC is published in the International Journal of Pharmacy Practice (IJPP).


1) Numbers dying from CVD and CHD. Accessed 7 March, 2008.

2) Leo G. Rationale for intervention to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease: a general internist's perspective. American Journal of Life Style Medicine 2007;1:20-3.

3) Shashivadan PH, Stanton PN. Patients' beliefs about their cardiovascular disease. Heart Bmj 2005; 91:1235-9.

For media enquiries please contact: The British Pharmaceutical Conference 2008 Press Office, (September 7, 8, and 9 only), Tel: +44-161-827-8765, Tel: +44-161-827-8766, Tel: +44-161-827-8767, Tel: +44-161-827-8768, Fax: +44-161-839-9311, Mobile: Tel: +44-7792-109-834, Tel: +44-7739-533-658 or: The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain's Public Relations Unit, +44-207-572-2335