What is Coronary Artery Disease?

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The coronary arteries supply blood and oxygen to the heart muscle. Coronary artery disease (CAD) occurs when there is something blocking the coronary arteries.

The blockage reduces or stops the flow of blood to the heart, depriving the heart muscle of much-needed oxygen.

CAD (also called ischemic heart disease), the most common form of heart disease, is the leading cause of death among both men and women in America today.

Causes and Risk Factors of Coronary Artery Disease

CAD usually results from the buildup of fatty material and plaque in the arteries.

There are many factors that increase the risk for CAD:

  • Family history of coronary heart disease, stroke or peripheral arterial disease, especially before age 50 in men or before age 60 in women
  • Family history of stroke or peripheral artery disease
  • Male gender
  • Age (65 and older)
  • Menopause in women
  • Tobacco smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Lack of physical activity or exercise
  • Obesity

Preventing Coronary Artery Disease

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You can control some of your risk factors and help prevent illness from CAD. Talk to your doctor about:

  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Lowering blood cholesterol
  • Quitting smoking
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Getting regular exercise

Learn more about heart disease prevention.