Coronary Artery Disease
Atherosclerosis ("hardening of the arteries") is a slow process in which deposits of fat, cholesterol, and calcium build up inside the artery. These deposits are called plaque. Like the inside of a rusty water pipe, the artery wall becomes rough, hard, and more narrow. When the heart vessels are affected, blood flow and oxygen to the heart is decreased. Over time, the plaque can rupture and cause a blood clot to form. With the plaque, this clot can further block the blood and oxygen supply to the heart muscle, leading to coronary artery disease (CAD).
CAD may cause several problems, including:
Many patients may have angina and as a result they may have:
Symptoms can also include nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, fatigue or excessive sweating. It is important to recognize that coronary artery disease may progress slowly and can be without symptoms.
Risk factors are habits, traits or conditions that may increase a person's chance of developing atherosclerosis.
Risk factors that can be controlled or modified include:
Risk factors for cardiac and vascular disease that cannot be changed include:
For more information regarding coronary artery disease, please contact the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at 312-NM-HEART (664-3278) or request a first time appointment online.