Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common type of heart disease. The coronary arteries begin to narrow. This will slow or stop blood flow.
These arteries bring blood to the heart muscle. It supplies the busy heart with oxygen and other nutrients. Slowed or stopped blood flow will lead to damage of the heart muscle.
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Damage to blood vessel walls causes CAD. Most common factors include:
When plaque hardens it can tear blood vessel walls and cause bleeding. A blood clot will form to help the area heal. However, it can also add to plaque and further shrink paths for blood flow.
The risk for CAD is greater in:
Factors that may increase your risk of CAD include:
Other risk factors may include:
CAD itself may not have any signs or symptoms. Often the first sign is a problem with the heart. Weak or blocked blood flow to the heart can cause:
Call for emergency services right away if you think you may be having a heart attack. Early care can stop further harm.
The doctor may suspect CAD based on your family and health past. If you have a high risk of CAD, these tests may be done:
Blood tests to check:
CAD may not be found until after angina appears or a heart attack occurs.
The goals of treatment include:
Options to help reach these goals include:
Diet and exercise can play a role in heart and blood vessel healthy. Goals may include
Smoking can also make plaque worse. It also increases risk of heart disease. There are many tools to help quit.
Medicine can help to manage issues that can make CAD worse. It can also help decrease the risk of complications. Options include:
Early care may decrease damage to the heart. Routine follow-up care will be part of the care plan. Other steps that may be recommended include:
Depression, anxiety, and stress can occur with CAD. Talk to your doctor if you need help. There are also programs to help you make heart-healthy changes. It includes help with your food and activity plans.
Surgery may be needed to remove very bad blocks. Options include:
The risk of CAD may be lower with:
American Heart Association
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
Public Health Agency of Canada
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Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael J. Fucci, DO, FACC Last Updated: 8/14/2020