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Coronary Artery Disease

What is Coronary Artery Disease?

Coronary artery disease is a condition where fatty deposits and cell-proliferation build-up in the arteries supplying the heart muscle. These plaques form commonly in a condition called atherosclerosis.

Coronary artery disease is the most common form of heart diseaseAbout 7 million Americans suffer from coronary heart disease and 500,000 Americans die from it each year.  It is much more common in older people and in males. However, women tend to be older and sicker when they are first treated for a heart attack. 

Coronary artery disease is also called CAD and coronary heart disease.

What Causes Coronary Artery Disease?

Coronary artery disease occurs when some of the arteries that carry blood to the heart muscle become narrowed with fatty deposits. In this condition fatty deposits called plaque, composed of cholesterol and fats, build up on the inner wall of the coronary arteries. When arteries are narrowed, the heart is not fully supplied with the oxygen and other nutrients it needs.  If an artery is completely blocked, a heart attack occurs.

Heart disease is very common.  Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. The tendency to develop heart disease can be genetic. However, certain lifestyle factors such as diet, smoking, and stress make a big difference in whether or not a person will develop heart disease.

Coronary artery disease appears to be a lifelong process in some people, beginning at an early age and progressing slowly until the vessels become so clogged that the heart muscle no longer gets adequate nourishment

Major Risks of Coronary Artery Disease

Increasing Age: About 80 percent of people who die from coronary heart disease are age 65 or older.

Heredity: Children with parents who have heart disease are more likely to develop it themselves.

Cigarette and Tobacco Smoke: Smokers' risk of developing heart disease is twice that of nonsmokers.  Smokers who have a heart attack are more likely to die within an hour of the heart attack than nonsmokers.

  • Studies have shown that after five years of giving up smoking, the risk of developing heart disease is the same as for someone who never smoked.

High Blood Pressure: High blood pressure increases the workload of the heart causing it to enlarge and weaken over time.

High Cholesterol: The risk of coronary heart disease increases as blood cholesterol levels increase.

Diagnosis of Coronary Artery Disease

The only certain way to diagnose and measure the extent of coronary heart disease is through the use of coronary angiography.  If your physician suspects that you have coronary heart disease, he will order the procedure.

Coronary Artery Disease Statistics

  • Death rates from coronary artery disease in the UK are among the highest in the world.
  • Coronary Heart Disease is the second most common cause of death in Singapore.
  • About 12 million Americans have Coronary Heart Disease.

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