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Coronary Artery Disease

Coronary artery disease (CAD), or coronary heart disease, results when excess plaque builds up in the inner walls of the coronary arteries and blood flow to the heart is reduced. CAD is the most common cause of death in the U.S. But CAD is a disease that develops over time and healthy lifestyle decisions can reduce the liklihood of developing the disease.

Contribution Factors & Symptoms

Many things contribute to atherosclerosis, or the build up of the fatty deposits in the arteries.

The trigger for an atherosclerotic plaque to develop is thought to be damage to the inner lining of the arteries from high blood pressure or inflammation.

The symptoms of coronary artery disease are due to lack of blood and oxygen reaching the heart or the inability of the heart to supply the body with blood. Symptoms include angina (chest pain), shortness of breath, fatigue, and swelling in the lower legs, ankles and feet. A heart attack results when a coronary artery becomes completey blocked.

Atherosclerotic plaques develop in most people as they get older. There are steps you can take to prevent the progression to coronary artery disease.

CAD Risk Factors

Modifiable risk factors that increase your chances of developing CAD include smoking, being overweight, being physically inactive, having high blood pressure, having high blood cholesterol, having diabetes, and having high stress levels.

Treatments & Prevention

Treatment of CAD includes lifestyle changes to reduce further progression of atherosclerosis, and medications to reduce blood pressure and lower cholesterol, thin the blood and reduce clotting, and increase blood flow.

Two common procedures to treat CAD are angioplasty to push the buildup back against the artery wall and bypass surgery to introduce new pathways for blood around the blockage.

The best approach to preventing CAD is to eat a heart healthy diet, include exercise in your daily routine, maintain a healthy weight, don't smoke, and keep blood pressure and blood choletserol within normal levels.


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