Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common type of heart disease, in which the coronary arteries ( blood vessels that supplies oxygen and nutrients to the heart muscle) become rigid and narrowed due to buildup of plaque (deposition of cholesterol) in the inner walls of the heart. This restricts the flow of oxygen rich blood to the heart muscle, which may result in angina (chest pain) and shortness of breath. If the plaque ruptures or due to a complete blockage in the artery, it may result in heart attack or sudden cardiac death.
Build of cholesterol plaques within the blood vessels is termed atherosclerosis.
The plaque makes the inner walls of the artery sticky, so that the inflammatory cells, lipoproteins, and calcium travelling through the blood stream and adhere to the plaque. The plaque gradually enlarges, narrowing the blood vessel lumen, restricting blood flow to the heart muscle and thus reducing the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the heart.
If left untreated, CAD can lead to life threatening complications such as:
The diagnostic work up includes a physical examination, in addition to medical history, family history, risk factors and any signs and symptoms of CAD. Further diagnostic tests may be recommended:
The doctor may prescribe medications, which help in reducing symptoms and severity of disease such as:
To maintain healthy arteries and to prevent coronary artery disease, some measures need to be taken such as lifestyle modifications which includes avoiding smoking and alcohol use, exercising regularly to maintain healthy weight, controlling sugar and cholesterol levels in blood and also eating a healthy diet.
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