Coronary artery disease (CAD) is a disorder characterized by the collection of plaque along the walls of the coronary arteries, which are responsible for pumping oxygenated blood to the heart. This plaque is comprised of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances found in the blood.
Atherosclerosis is the condition that occurs when this plaque accumulates. Plaque causes the arteries to narrow, thus restricting blood flow to the heart. It also increases the likelihood that blood clots, capable of impeding blood circulation, will form in the arteries.
When the volume of blood traveling through the coronary arteries is reduced or entirely cut off, an insufficient amount of oxygen-rich blood reaches the heart muscle. This may lead to angina or a heart attack.
The chest pain associated with this blood shortage to the heart is called angina. Angina may feel as if something is squeezing or weighing down your chest. This discomfort may appear in your shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or back.
When blood flowing to a section of the heart is completely blocked, a heart attack is inevitable. Without the presence of oxygen in the heart muscle, it will die. If you are fortunate enough to survive a heart attack, you should seek immediate medical care; a heart attack that goes untreated may lead to other serious side effects and could even be fatal.
As time passes, CAD weakens the heart muscle and contributes to heart failure and arrhythmia. A person afflicted by heart failure does not have the ability to pump enough blood through the body, while arrhythmia affects the rate and rhythm of your heartbeat.
CAD, which is the most common form of heart disease, is the leading killer of males and females in the US. Altering the way you live, taking medication, and undergoing various medical procedures has proven to be effective in treating and preventing CAD in most people.
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