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Coronary Artery Disease: The Basics

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  • Coronary Artery Disease
  • Heart Disease

What is coronary artery disease (CAD)?

Coronary artery disease is a type of heart disease. Specifically, it refers to the narrowing of the coronary arteries (the blood vessels within the heart). It is usually caused by atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), which is a buildup of plaques (deposits of cholesterol or fats) on the inner walls of the arteries.

What are the causes of coronary artery disease (CAD)?

CAD can be caused by smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or a sedentary lifestyle. These factors can cause plaque buildup in the blood vessels over time. It can lead to dangerous complications, but it can be helped if changes in lifestyles are made.

What are coronary arteries?

Coronary arteries are the arteries that bring blood to the heart. There are two main coronary arteries, one that comes off the left side of the aorta and one that comes off the right side of the aorta. The left main coronary artery branches into the circumflex artery and the left anterior descending artery (sometimes called “the widowmaker” because blockage of this artery is common in men and can lead to instant death). The right coronary artery branches into the right marginal artery and the posterior descending artery.

What is heart disease?

Heart disease is a serious and chronic condition that involves any disorders that affect the heart. Heart disease can be acquired or inherited. “Acquired” means that you develop it throughout your life, while “inherited” means you were born with certain heart defects. Heart disease is treatable but not necessarily curable.

What is cardiovascular disease?

Cardiovascular disease refers to any kind of disease that involves the heart or the blood vessels. Angina, CAD, and stroke are common cardiovascular diseases. Prevention of cardiovascular disease may be possible through appropriate lifestyle changes.

What causes heart disease?

Heart disease is caused by numerous factors, such as lifestyle choices or inherited conditions, that contribute to heart damage. CAD, high blood pressure and diabetes are just a few that impact overall heart health. It is very important to have regular screenings and take preventive steps to minimize your risk of heart disease.

How can I prevent heart disease?

Preventing heart disease requires healthy lifestyle changes. It also demands consistency and persistence. Daily exercise and a healthy, balanced diet are required. Stress management is also important.

Is heart disease curable?

Heart disease is not curable, but it is treatable. Heart disease is a chronic condition that develops over time and will slowly progress further without lifestyle changes. It is important to treat heart disease and make lifestyle changes as soon as it is detected for a better and longer life.

Do women suffer from heart disease?

Heart disease is a common ailment for both women and men. In the US alone, heart disease can kill 1 in 4 women. Lifestyle choices have a great impact on heart disease risk. In general, women have a lower risk of heart disease than men–until they reach menopause. Then their risk of heart disease becomes closer to that of men.

How is heart disease diagnosed?

Heart disease can be detected with various tests, physical examinations and review of family histories. Stress testing, an electrocardiogram, an echocardiography, chest x-rays and even blood tests are some of the exams that can give an in-depth look into your particular heart problems.

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