Coronary Artery Disease is the most common form of heart disease seen in the modern world. And as far as statistics are concerned it is to be held responsible for the highest number of fatalities in the U.S, irrespective of sex. It is also known as Coronary Arteriosclerosis.
Coronary Artery Disease is a condition of the heart which arises when the blood supply to the muscles of the heart is reduced when the arteries that supply blood to the heart become hardened and constrict in inside diameter. This is primarily due to the accumulation of Cholesterol and other materials on the inner walls of the arteries. These substances i.e. Cholesterol, fat, calcium and other stuff that are found in blood are collectively called plaque. As the accumulation of plaque increases in the arteries, there is a reduced flow of blood.
Consequently, the heart muscles are at a loss for the required supply of blood or oxygen. This leads to complications like chest pain (angina) and heart attack(myocardial infraction). Heart attacks are mostly due to the formation of a clot which cuts off the heart’s blood supply causing permanent heart damage. Angina or chest pain is experienced when there is a lack of oxygen rich blood flow to a particular area of the heart.
Research has shown a formidable link connecting CAD to a damaged coronary artery. When the inner walls of the coronary artery are damaged due to some reasons the body initiates a healing procedure, as a result of which plaque builds up in the damaged portion of the artery. With the passage of time this build up may crack causing clots to form, which puts the person at higher risk of CAD. n the long run we see a grim horizon; this condition causes weakened heart muscles which might lead to heart failure and arrhythmia or changes in normal pulse of the heart.
Although female coronary arteries are somewhat smaller than in males, they have lesser risk of Coronary Artery Disease. There are several risk factors which may prove instrumental in raising the risk of developing CAD. They are:
- Unhealthy Levels of Blood Cholesterol, i.e. High level of bad Cholesterol or LDL Cholesterol or Low level of Good Cholesterol or HDL Cholesterol.
- High Blood Pressure.
- Insulin resistance, a situation which occurs when the body is incapable of using its insulin (hormone) properly.
- Obesity or being overweight.
- Lack of physical activity and age. In men the risk of CAD increases after age 45. And in women the risk increases after age 55.
- Family history of early Heart disease, if your father or brother had it, chances are you might too.
- High levels of a protein called C-reactive protein in the blood.
- The common symptom is angina or chest pain. It may feel like pressure or a squeezing feeling on the neck shoulders etc. Emotional stress can also trigger pain. Shortness of breath is another symptom which is due to the fact that the heart can’t supply blood to the lungs. Some people show no signs of CAD or no symptoms whatsoever this is known as silent CAD, it becomes evident only once they get a heart attack or experience an arrhythmia.
Normal diagnostic procedure followed involves analysis of the patients’ medical and family history, risk factors and the results of various diagnostic tests which are carried out like an electrocardiogram for instance. One can prevent CAD to an extent by proper treatment and medication.