Coronary artery disease develops when your coronary arteries — the major blood vessels that supply your heart with blood, oxygen and nutrients — become damaged or diseased. Cholesterol-containing deposits (plaque) in your arteries and inflammation are usually to blame for coronary artery disease.
When plaques build up, they narrow your coronary arteries, decreasing blood flow to your heart. Eventually, the decreased blood flow may cause chest pain (angina), shortness of breath, or other coronary artery disease signs and symptoms. A complete blockage can cause a heart attack.
Because coronary artery disease often develops over decades, it can go unnoticed until you have a heart attack. But there's plenty you can do to prevent and treat coronary artery disease. Start by committing to a healthy lifestyle.
Apr. 12, 2014
- Coronary heart disease. National Lung, Heart, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/Cad/CAD_WhatIs.html. Accessed October 6, 2013.
- Smith SC, et al. American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology Foundation Secondary prevention and risk reduction therapy for patients with coronary and other Atherosclerotic Vascular Disease: 2011 update. Circulation. 2011;124:2458.
- The seventh report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation and Treatment of High Blood Pressure. Bethesda, Md.: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/hypertension/jnc7full.htm. Accessed Oct. 3, 2013.
- Executive summary of the Third Report of the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults (Adult Treatment Panel III). National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/cholesterol/index.htm. Accessed Oct. 6, 2013.
- Natural product effectiveness checker: High cholesterol. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. http://www.naturaldatabase.com. Accessed Oct. 3, 2013.
- Natural product effectiveness checker: Hypertension. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. http://www.naturaldatabase.com. Accessed Oct. 3, 2013.
- Omega-3 supplements: An introduction. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/omega3/introduction.htm. Accessed Oct. 6, 2013.
- Wilson PWF. Overview of possible risk factors for cardiovascular disease. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 6, 2013.
- Hanson MA, et al. Coronary Artery Disease. Primary Care: Clinics in Office Practice. 2013;40:1.
- Wilson PWF. Overview of the risk equivalents and established risk factors for cardiovascular disease. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 6, 2013.
- Weintraub H. Update on marine omega-3 fatty acids: Management of dyslipidemia and current omega-3 treatment options. Atherosclerosis. 2013;230:381.
- Grogan M (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Oct. 16, 2013.