Coronary artery disease is the most common type of heart disease, a group of cardiovascular conditions that are responsible for the most deaths in the United States each year.
As heart health experts at Humble Cardiology Associates, Dr. Madaiah Revana and our team have started with this alarming fact to get your attention. Now that we have it, we want to take a closer look at coronary artery disease (CAD) with you — the basics, the symptoms, and the complications.
Since we believe that education is important when it comes to your heart health, here’s what we want you to know about CAD.
Coronary artery disease basics
In the simplest of terms, CAD is a condition in which the blood vessels that supply blood to your heart are blocked or narrowed. This blockage or narrowing is typically created by a vascular injury where plaque builds up, leading to a condition called atherosclerosis.
As we mentioned, CAD is the most common type of heart disease and affects more than 18 million people in the US.
Risk factors for coronary artery disease
As you can imagine, one risk factors for CAD may be having high cholesterol numbers, namely elevated low-density lipoproteins and triglycerides.
Age and gender also play roles — CAD develops more in men over the age of 45 and women over the age of 55.
Family history can also be a big marker for CAD — if you have a family history of heart disease, especially premature heart disease, you may be more at risk for developing conditions like CAD.
When it comes to lifestyle habits that can contribute to CAD, we count lack of physical activity, unhealthy diets, and smoking among the most harmful.
Complications of coronary artery disease
We’re going to start with an eye-opening statistic here — CAD was responsible for the deaths of more than 375,000 people in 2021.
The complications that stem from CAD are very serious and include:
If a piece of the plaque breaks off and blocks blood flow to your heart, you can have a life-threatening heart attack.
The compromised blood flow to your heart can lead to an irregular heartbeat, which is called an arrhythmia.
Over time, the decreased blood flow to your heart because of CAD can lead to heart failure, a progressive condition in which the organ is increasingly unable to deliver oxygen-rich blood out to your body.
Symptoms of coronary artery disease
We outlined the complications of CAD before we reviewed symptoms for a very good reason — CAD often doesn’t have any symptoms.
The blockages in your coronary arteries can develop over years and you may not feel anything until the unthinkable happens, such as a heart attack.
That said, some people do develop symptoms, such as stable angina, which is ongoing and predictable chest pain. You may also develop shortness of breath more easily.
Treating coronary artery disease
While the news about coronary artery disease might seem all bad, the condition can be managed through:
- Early detection
- Lifestyle changes
- Risk factor management
Of course, expert oversight is the heart of managing conditions like CAD effectively, and we offer that here.
For experienced and skilled help with your heart health, please schedule an appointment with us at one of our two offices in Humble or Houston, Texas, today.