Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)
Coronary heart disease, or coronary artery disease (CAD), is characterized by the accumulation of fatty deposits along the innermost layer of the coronary arteries. The fatty deposits may develop in childhood and continue to thicken and enlarge throughout the life span. This thickening, called atherosclerosis, narrows the arteries and can decrease or block the flow of blood to the heart.
Risk factors for CAD often include:
- High LDL cholesterol
- High triglycerides levels
- Low HDL cholesterol
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Physical inactivity
- High saturated fat diet
Controlling risk factors is the key to preventing illness and death from CAD.
Symptoms of coronary artery disease may include:
- Pain in the chest behind the breastbone
- Pain radiating in the arms, shoulders, jaw, neck, and/or back
- Shortness of breath
- Weakness and fatigue
In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for coronary artery disease may include an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG); stress test (also called treadmill or exercise ECG); cardiac catheterization or nuclear scanning.
Treatments include modification of risk factors, use of medications and in some cases, procedures such as coronary angioplasty or coronary artery bypass.Previous Page Last Review Date: August 14, 2019