Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common type of heart disease. It is the leading cause of death in the United States in both men and women.
CAD happens when the arteries that supply blood to heart muscle become hardened and narrowed. This is due to the buildup of cholesterol and other material, called plaque, on their inner walls. This buildup is called atherosclerosis. As it grows, less blood can flow through the arteries. As a result, the heart muscle can't get the blood or oxygen it needs. This can lead to chest pain (angina) or a heart attack. Most heart attacks happen when a blood clot suddenly cuts off the hearts' blood supply, causing permanent heart damage.
Over time, CAD can also weaken the heart muscle and contribute to heart failure and arrhythmias. Heart failure means the heart can't pump blood well to the rest of the body. Arrhythmias are changes in the normal beating rhythm of the heart.
NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
One of the biggest treatments for coronary heart disease (CHD) includes heart-healthy lifestyle changes. These changes may include healthy eating, maintaining a certain weight, managing stress, increasing physical activity, and quitting smoking. Other treatments include medications, medical procedures, and cardiac rehabilitation. All of these treatments can help lower the risk of complications from CHD, slowing or even reversing the buildup of plaque, and widening or bypassing clogged arteries. References 1. Coronary Heart Disease. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. URL: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/coronary-heart-disease Accessed June 17, 2018
Coronary artery disease occurs when cholesterol builds up in arteries. This narrows the space available for blood to flow through the arteries. The heart begins to receive less blood and oxygen. This can lead to chest pain and/or a heart attack. References 1. Coronary Artery Disease. MedlinePlus. URL: https://medlineplus.gov/coronaryarterydisease.html. Accessed 3/18/2018.
Coronary artery disease can be prevented by leading a heart-healthy lifestyle, controlling risk factors, and taking certain medicines. Certain risk factors you can control are high cholesterol in your blood, high blood pressure, and obesity. Ways to lead a healthy lifestyle include eating a heart-healthy diet, aiming for a healthy weight, managing stress, partaking in physical activity, and quitting smoking. Heart-healthy eating means adding fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free dairy products, fish, lean meats, poultry, eggs, nuts, seeds, soy products, legumes, and certain vegetable oils to your diet and limiting sodium, saturated and trans fats, added sugars, and alcohol. Stress can contribute to high blood pressure and other cardiovascular risks and even trigger serious events such as a heart attack or angina. Learning to control stress in healthy ways such as meditation or talking to friends and family can prevent coronary artery disease. Moreover, maintaining physical fitness is important in preventing coronary artery disease and routine physical activity and reduction in sedentary lifestyle can help lower many heart disease risk factors such as LDL levels and increasing HDL levels. Physical activity can also control high blood pressure and help lose excess weight. Smoking can raise your risk for coronary artery disease and heart attack and worsen other coronary heart disease risk factors. This is why quitting is such an essential step. Furthermore, there are smoking cessation programs and products that can help you quit smoking if you choose to do so. Also, try to avoid secondhand smoke. Lastly, certain medications such as a cholesterol-lowering statin drug and a daily low dose aspirin can prevent coronary artery disease. References 1. Coronary Heart Disease Risk Factors. National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, URL: www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/coronary-heart-disease-risk-factors. Accessed March 13, 2018