Andrea Markowitz, Ph.D.
February 8, 2010
What It Is and Causes
CAD is a condition in which fatty deposits called "plaque" build inside the coronary arteries ( atherosclerosis).
The plaque buildup from atherosclerosis narrows the arteries and reduces blood flow to your heart, thereby decreasing its supply of oxygen-rich blood. Atherosclerosis also increases the risk of clots forming in your arteries. If clots break away, they can partially or completely block the flow of blood to your heart.
Some people are at greater risk of developing CAD than others. Risk factors include:
Consequences of CAD
When oxygen-rich blood can't reach your heart you feel chest pain or pressure (angina), and you may experience a heart attack. The part of your heart that doesn't receive enough oxygen-rich blood dies, damaging and weakening the heart. Other serious consequences may occur, including arrhythmia and death.
Symptoms often don't appear until after age 50. They show up during exertion such as exercise, when the heart has to work harder and requires more oxygen.
Treatment Options and Preventive Measures
Living a healthy lifestyle is the most effective treatment for CAD. It is also the best preventive measure and it may even reverse coronary artery disease. While you cannot control risk factors such as age and family history, you can control many others including:
For more information visit the American Heart Association and HealthKey.com.
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