Coronary artery disease (CAD) is a common type of heart disease and a leading cause of death worldwide. It occurs when the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle become narrowed or blocked due to the buildup of plaque, which is made up of cholesterol, fat, calcium, and other substances found in the blood. This buildup is called atherosclerosis.
When the arteries become narrowed or blocked, the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart is reduced, leading to symptoms such as chest pain (angina), shortness of breath, and in severe cases, heart attack or sudden cardiac death.
Risk factors for coronary artery disease include:
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- High cholesterol levels
- Physical inactivity
- Unhealthy diet
- Family history of heart disease
- Age (risk increases with age)
Prevention and management of coronary artery disease involve lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, adopting a healthy diet, regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, managing stress, and controlling other risk factors such as blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes. In some cases, medications may also be prescribed to control blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, prevent blood clots, or manage other conditions.
In more severe cases, procedures such as angioplasty and stenting or coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) may be necessary to improve blood flow to the heart.
Early detection and treatment of coronary artery disease are crucial in preventing complications and improving outcomes. Regular check-ups with a healthcare provider are important, especially for individuals with risk factors or symptoms of heart disease.