Coronary Artery Disease

(CAD; Coronary Atherosclerosis; Silent MI; Coronary Heart Disease; Ischemic Heart Disease; Atherosclerosis of the Coronary Arteries)

Animation Movie AvailableRelated Media: Learning About Heart Disease Risk Factors

Definition

Coronary arteries bring oxygen rich blood to the heart muscle. Coronary artery disease (CAD) is narrowing of these arteries. If the blockage is complete, areas of the heart muscle may be damaged. In a severe case, the heart muscle dies. This can lead to a heart attack, also known as a myocardial infarction (MI).
Coronary Artery Disease
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Causes

Causes include:
  • Thickening of the walls of the arteries that feed the heart muscle
  • Build up of fatty plaques within the coronary arteries
  • Sudden spasm of a coronary artery
  • Narrowing of the coronary arteries
  • Inflammation within the coronary arteries
  • Development of a blood clot within the coronary arteries that blocks blood flow

Risk Factors

Men, especially those who are over 45 years of age, are at increased risk. Women who are over 55 years of age are also at increased risk.Factors that may increase your risk of CAD include:Other risk factors may include:
  • Stress
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Depression
  • A diet that is high in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and/or calories
  • Drinking sugary beverages on a regular basis

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