Coronary Artery Disease

Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)

Coronary arteries bring oxygen rich blood to the heart. Coronary artery disease (CAD) is blockage of these arteries. If an entire artery is blocked, areas of the heart may be injured. In severe cases, the heart muscle dies. This is known as a heart attack.

Coronary artery disease is the most common form of heart disease. It is the leading cause of death worldwide.

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CAD is caused by plaque buildup. Plaque is made up of deposits of cholesterol and other substances in the artery. Plaque buildup causes the inside of the arteries to narrow over time, which could partially or totally block the blood flow. This process is called atherosclerosis.

Too much plaque buildup can narrow artery walls and make it hard for blood to flow through your body. When your heart muscle doesn’t get enough blood, you may have chest pain or discomfort, which is called angina. Angina is the most common symptom of CAD.

Over time, CAD can weaken the heart muscle. This may lead to heart failure, a serious condition where the heart can’t pump blood the way that it should. An irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia, can develop.


  • There are several medications available for CAD. Your doctor or cardiologist will help decide which is best for you, considering your situation, seriousness, and risk factors.
  • If medication and a change in lifestyle aren’t enough your doctor may want to take a more serious approach such as: Angioplasty, stenting, and cardiac catheterization.
  • Cardiac catheterization involves a catheter that is led through a blocked artery to the heart. A tiny balloon may be inserted and inflated, opening the artery to improve blood flow. A stent, or metal mesh tube, may then be put in to ensure the artery stays open.
  • When more than one artery is blocked or the replacements have failed, coronary bypass surgery may be needed. Arteries are surgically removed from elsewhere in the body and inserted into place around the blocked arteries. The blood is then able to reach the heart, avoiding the blocked arteries all together.

Who is at risk for CAD?

  • Men > Women
  • Age: 45 and older for men, 55 and older for women
  • Strong family history of heart disease
  • Obesity and being overweight
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • High cholesterol


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Reducing Your Risk for CAD

If you have CAD, your health care team may suggest the following steps to help lower your risk for heart attack or worsening heart disease:

  • Lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthier (lower sodium, lower fat) diet, increasing physical activity, and quitting smoking.
  • Medications to treat the risk factors for CAD, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, an irregular heartbeat, and low blood flow.
  • Surgical procedures to help return blood flow to the heart.


CAD is a major risk factor for Heart Attack. Know when to call 911

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention



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