Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)
Coronary artery disease is the narrowing or blockage of the coronary arteries, usually caused by atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis (sometimes called “hardening” or “clogging” of the arteries) is the buildup of cholesterol and fatty deposits (called plaques) on the inner walls of the arteries. These plaques can restrict blood flow to the heart muscle by physically clogging the artery or by causing abnormal artery tone and function. Without an adequate blood supply, the heart becomes starved of oxygen and the vital nutrients it needs to work properly. This can cause chest pain called angina. If the blood supply to a portion of the heart muscle is cut off entirely, or if the energy demands of the heart become much greater than its blood supply, a heart attack (injury to the heart muscle) may occur.
What causes coronary artery disease?
CAD is caused by plaque buildup in the walls of the arteries that supply blood to the heart (called coronary arteries) and other parts of the body.
Plaque is made up of deposits of cholesterol and other substances in the artery. Plaque buildup causes the inside of the arteries to narrow over time, which can partially or totally block the blood flow. This process is called atherosclerosis.