Diseases & Conditions


CADCausesMedicationsPreventionRisk FactorsSymptomsTreatmentTypes

What is Coronary artery disease?

Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common type of heart disease. It involves the reduction of blood flow to the heart muscle due to build-up of plaque in the arteries of the heart.

Causes for CAD

The causes for CAD are not one. A combination of causes leads to this condition and result in myocardial infarction. The primary cause for Coronary Artery Disease is high levels of low density lipoproteins or LDL.

Medications for CAD

For individuals whose condition cannot be adequately controlled by lifestyle changes, there is a need for medical treatment Medication is aimed at reducing the workload on the heart, lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of having a heart attack.

Medication for these purposes that are commonly used include anticoagulants, aspirin, ACE inhibitors, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, nitroglycerin, glycoprotein IIb-IIIa, statins. Supplements containing fish oils and omega-3-fatty acids are also taken.

Prevention for CAD

Preventing Coronary Artery Disease is possible with changes to lifestyle. An individual should understand the working of the body and should evaluate it to determine the condition. Apart from dietary corrections, smoking should be abandoned. Exercise helps keep in weight in check and therefore reduces the risk of fat build up. Efforts should also be made to understand family history and risk that exists.

Risk factors of CAD

There are several risk factors for CAD. These are –

  • Hypercholesterolemia
  • Smoking
  • Hypertension
  • Hyperglycemia
  • Lack of exercise
  • Consumption of alcohol
  • Stress
  • Diet rich in saturated fats
  • Diet low in antioxidants
  • Obesity
  • Men over 60; Women over 65

Symptoms of CAD

The most common symptom of CAD is chest pain also called as angina pectoris. The pain radiates to the neck, the back and the jaw. The pain also presents with numbness and loss feeling in the arms and shoulders. Other symptoms include

  • Heart attacks
  • Arrhythmias or irregular heart beating patterns. These are potentially fatal conditions if treatment for them is not obtained on time
  • Discomfort when exerting stress or when doing normal activity that did not cause stress earlier was not present.

It is also possible that CAD is present without any symptoms. Asymptomatic conditions may indicate that the disease has not progressed to the extent of complete blockage.

Treatment for Coronary Artery Disease

First line of treatment for CAD is changing lifestyle habits, which includes weight control, diet and exercise. It also requires an individual to quit smoking.

Medical treatment for Coronary Artery Disease is aimed at reducing levels of LDL and increase the levels of HDL With treatment, the formation of plaques can be slowed down and efforts are made to reverse the process. If required a bypass surgery is done, to provide alternate routes for the blood to reach the heart.

CAD can have several complications. The most serious and possibly fatal is myocardial infarction. If the heart does not receive attention in time, it is always fatal. The heart muscle once scarred cannot retain its original form and function.

Types of CAD

Since CAD is the end result of a process that takes place over decades, there are no clear types. However, the degree to which obstruction has taken place in the coronary artery can render some classification of the condition. Accordingly, there may be partial obstruction, which can lead to chest pain or angina, when doing normal activity or complete obstruction can lead to myocardial infarction also commonly called heart attack, which results in the death of heart muscle. In the beginning stage however, Coronary Artery Disease does not show any sign or symptom.