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What is coronary artery disease? updated 2024

Understanding Coronary Artery Disease: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

Learn about coronary artery disease (CAD), a common heart condition affecting millions worldwide. Explore its causes, symptoms, treatment options, and preventive measures.

Introduction

Coronary artery disease (CAD) is a prevalent cardiovascular condition that occurs when the blood vessels supplying the heart with oxygen-rich blood (coronary arteries) become narrowed or blocked due to a buildup of plaque. This impedes blood flow to the heart muscle, leading to various health complications. Understanding CAD, including its causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention, is crucial for managing heart health effectively.

Causes of Coronary Artery Disease

CAD typically develops over time due to several factors:

  1. Atherosclerosis: The primary cause of CAD, where arteries become narrowed by the accumulation of cholesterol, fatty deposits, and cellular waste.
  2. High Blood Pressure: Hypertension can damage artery walls, accelerating the formation of plaque.
  3. High Cholesterol Levels: Elevated levels of LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) contribute to plaque buildup.
  4. Smoking: Tobacco use damages blood vessels and increases the risk of atherosclerosis.
  5. Diabetes: Uncontrolled diabetes can damage blood vessels, increasing the likelihood of CAD.
  6. Obesity and Inactivity: Sedentary lifestyle and obesity are linked to higher risks of CAD.

Symptoms of Coronary Artery Disease

The symptoms of CAD can vary and may include:

  • Chest pain (angina) or discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosing CAD involves a combination of medical history assessment, physical exams, and diagnostic tests like electrocardiogram (ECG/EKG), stress tests, and coronary angiography. Treatment options include:

  1. Lifestyle Changes: Adopting a heart-healthy diet, regular exercise, smoking cessation, and weight management.
  2. Medications: Prescribed to manage cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and prevent blood clots.
  3. Medical Procedures: Angioplasty, stenting, or coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) to restore blood flow to the heart.

Prevention of Coronary Artery Disease

Preventing CAD involves mitigating risk factors through:

  • Healthy eating habits (low-fat, high-fiber diet)
  • Regular physical activity
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Managing stress levels
  • Avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption

Conclusion

Coronary artery disease is a serious condition that requires proactive management. By understanding its causes, recognizing symptoms, and adopting preventive measures, individuals can significantly reduce their risk of developing CAD and maintain optimal heart health.

By prioritizing heart health through awareness and healthy lifestyle choices, we can combat the prevalence of coronary artery disease and promote overall well-being.


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