What is coronary artery disease?

Coronary artery disease is characterised by the accumulation of plaque in the arteries that provide oxygen-rich blood to your heart. Plaque causes a constriction or blockage, which can lead to a heart attack. Chest pain or discomfort, as well as shortness of breath, are symptoms. Treatments may include dietary changes, drugs that target your risk factors, and/or surgery.

What are the causes of plaque in your arteries?

Plaque is formed when cholesterol becomes lodged in the arterial wall. To counteract this, the body sends white blood cells to trap the cholesterol, which then transforms into foamy cells that spew more fat and produce additional inflammation. This causes the muscle cells in the artery wall to grow and create a cap over the affected area. However, the soft plaque beneath the cover is hazardous. “For example, if your blood pressure rises, it puts strain on the plaque’s thin wall, which can burst open, create a clot, and cause a heart attack,” explains Dr. Cannon. When plaques rupture, approximately three out of every four heart attacks occur.

Who is at risk for coronary artery disease?

You are more likely to develop coronary artery disease if you:

1. Have high cholesterol (particularly high LDL “bad” cholesterol and low HDL “good” cholesterol).

2. You suffer from high blood pressure.

3. There is a family history of heart disease.

4. If you are diabetic.

5. You’re a smoker.

6. If you are a post-menopausal lady or a guy over the age of 45.

7. If are you overweight

8. If you are not physically active.

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