What is Coronary Artery Disease?
Coronary artery disease (CAD) is a state which affects the arteries that supply blood to the heart. It is generally caused by atherosclerosis which is a made up of plaque inside the artery walls. This causes the inside of the arteries to become narrower and slows down the flow of blood.
Causes of Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary artery disease is caused by a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors. These are also called risk factors. The following risk factors are important to be aware of, but are not considered to be controllable:
- Age: As you get older, your risk of having a heart disease increases
- Men: Men over the age of 55 are at higher risk of having a heart disease
- Women: After menopause, a woman’s risk of getting a heart disease increases
- Heredity: Your risk of having a heart disease is increased if your close family members—a parent, brother or sister had developed heart disease before the age of 55 or, in the case of female relatives, before menopause.
The risk factors that you can control are:
- Excess body weight, especially around your waist
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Abnormal blood cholesterol levels
- Lack of regular exercise
- Excessive stress levels
Symptoms of Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary artery disease (CAD) generally has no symptoms for several years during its early stages. Eventually, the disease progresses until the symptoms of angina or heart attack occur. These symptoms can be experienced during activity or at rest:
- Chest pain, or a feeling of heaviness in the chest
- Pain in the arm, neck or jaw
- Shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations (a racing or irregular heartbeat)
- Loss of consciousness
Treatment of Coronary Artery Disease
Treatments for Coronary artery disease (CAD) generally include lifestyle changes and medications, sometimes in combination with cardiac procedures or surgery. The best treatment combination will be determined based on your individual circumstances.