CAD, short for Coronary Artery Disease, refers to the blockage or narrowing of one or more coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart. It is caused by the hardening and narrowing of arteries, a condition known as atherosclerosis, and is also called Coronary Heart Disease (CHD). This condition affects a significant number of individuals in the US, with over 16.5 million cases reported in people aged 20 and above. Shockingly, someone in the United States experiences a heart attack every 40 seconds.
Atherosclerosis occurs when cholesterol plaques build up in the inner lining of the coronary arteries, leading to reduced blood flow to the heart muscle. The four primary coronary arteries – the right main coronary artery, left main coronary artery, left circumflex artery, and left anterior descending artery – are located on the surface of the heart. When any of these arteries are partially or completely blocked, the heart muscle may not receive enough blood, causing a range of symptoms.
Chest discomfort, also known as angina, is the most common symptom of CAD. This discomfort is often described as a feeling of tightness, burning, heaviness, squeezing, or pain in the chest. If left untreated, CAD can lead to serious complications such as heart attack or stroke.
Thankfully, several treatment options are available for CAD. These include balloon angioplasty, bypass surgery, and the use of stents. In addition to medical intervention, lifestyle changes such as a healthy diet, regular exercise, and quitting smoking can help manage CAD and improve overall heart health.