Coronary artery disease (CAD) is a condition in which the arteries that supply blood to the heart become narrow and stiff due to a buildup of plaque. It’s also called coronary heart disease (CHD). Coronary artery disease can lead to a heart attack if left untreated.
If you would like to learn more about the symptoms of coronary artery disease, or to request an appointment with a cardiologist, Find a Doctor at Dignity Health today.
Coronary Artery Disease Symptoms
The buildup of plaque on the inner walls of the arteries happens over a long period of time. In the beginning stages of CAD, there are often no recognizable symptoms. As CAD worsens, the symptoms may include chest pain, an irregular heartbeat, signs of heart failure, or a heart attack.
Coronary Artery Disease Causes
The main cause of coronary artery disease is the buildup of plaque — a fatty substance made up of cholesterol, calcium, and other materials. As this buildup increases along the inner wall of an artery, it restricts the flow of blood. In more advanced stages of CAD, plaque can block blood flow entirely, resulting in a heart attack.
Coronary Artery Disease Risk Factors
The main risk factors for coronary artery disease include:
- Older age (men over the age of 45; women over the age of 55)
- Family history of heart disease
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Being overweight
- Sedentary lifestyle (not exercising)
- Diet high in salt, fat, sugar, or processed foods
To learn more about your risk factors, use our online heart assessment tool.
Dignity Health’s Chandler Regional Medical Hospital and St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center are nationally recognized leaders in heart and vascular care, offering a full range of care and access to clinical research for better patient outcomes.
Coronary Artery Disease Treatment at Dignity Health
Fortunately, most cases of CAD are preventable. At Dignity Health, our heart doctors focus on slowing the progression of the disease, restoring normal heart function, and stopping the buildup of plaque in the arteries. If you have high blood pressure or cholesterol, your doctor may prescribe medications to treat these conditions and decrease the risk of plaque buildup. In some cases, surgery may be needed to clear artery blockages or bypass them altogether.
You can take steps to prevent the development of CAD. They include following a heart-healthy diet, getting regular exercise, not smoking, and controlling your blood sugar levels, if you have diabetes.
Cardiologists at Dignity Health are passionate about helping people of all ages prevent and effectively manage coronary artery disease in Arizona.