Coronary artery disease is a typical heart problem that affects coronary arteries. The coronary arteries, the main blood vessels feeding the heart, have difficulty supplying the heart muscle with enough blood, oxygen, and nutrients. Coronary artery disease is typically brought on by inflammation and cholesterol deposits (plaques) in the heart arteries.
The symptoms of this disease, such as chest pain and shortness of breath, may not be apparent until the disease has progressed significantly, leading to a heart attack. Therefore, it is often referred to as a “silent killer” since it can develop over many years without causing noticeable symptoms. Living a heart-healthy lifestyle can prevent coronary artery disease.
Other names for coronary artery disease are coronary heart disease and ischemic heart disease.
Types of coronary artery disease
Coronary artery disease are in two different forms:
- Stable ischemic heart disease: This is the chronic form. Your coronary arteries gradually narrow over a long period of time. Gradually, your heart experiences a reduction in the supply of oxygen-rich blood. Although you may notice certain symptoms, you are able to manage the condition in your daily life.
- Acute coronary syndrome: This is a medical emergency. A blood clot is created when the plaque in your coronary artery abruptly bursts, obstructing blood flow to your heart. A heart attack is caused by this sudden obstruction.
Symptoms of coronary artery disease may not be noticeable initially, or they may only become apparent during periods of increased heart rate, such as during exercise. As the disease progresses and the coronary arteries narrow, less blood is able to reach the heart, causing symptoms to worsen and occur more frequently.
Signs and symptoms of coronary artery disease can include:
- Chest pain (angina). Your chest may feel tight or heavy. Some claim that the sensation is similar to having someone stand on their chest. The middle or left side of the chest are the main locations for the chest pain. Angina can be brought on by exertion or intense feelings. The pain typically disappears minutes after the triggering event is over. Some people, particularly women, may have brief or sharp neck, arm, or back pain.
- Shortness of breath. You may experience difficulty breathing.
- Fatigue. You may experience unusual fatigue if the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet your body’s requirements.
- Heart attack. A heart attack is brought on by a totally clogged coronary artery. Chest discomfort or pressure, shoulder or arm pain, breathlessness, and perspiration are the typical signs and symptoms of a heart attack. Women may experience less common symptoms include neck or jaw pain, tiredness, and nausea. There are instances when heart attacks occur without any noticeable signs or symptoms.
You are more prone to develop coronary artery disease if you smoke, have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, or a significant family history of heart disease. Consult your doctor if you have a high risk of developing coronary artery disease. Tests may be required to assess for coronary artery disease and arterial narrowing.
Call your local emergency number as soon as you suspect a heart attack. Have someone transport you to the closest hospital if you don’t have access to emergency medical care. Only use driving yourself as a last resort.
The buildup of fats, cholesterol, and other substances within the inner walls of the coronary arteries results in the development of coronary artery disease, also known as atherosclerosis. This buildup, called plaque, can cause the arteries to narrow, restricting blood flow. In some cases, the plaque may rupture, leading to the formation of a blood clot.
Apart from elevated cholesterol levels, the following factors can also contribute to the damage of coronary arteries:
- Diabetes or resistance to insulin
- High blood pressure
- Sedentary lifestyle
Coronary artery disease is a prevalent condition that can be influenced by various factors such as age, genetics, other medical conditions, and lifestyle choices. These factors can affect the health of the coronary arteries, leading to the development of the disease.
Risk elements for coronary artery disease include:
- Age. The risk of developing damaged and narrowed arteries increases with age.
- Gender. In general, men are more likely to develop coronary artery disease. However, after menopause, the risk for women rises.
- Family history. You are more prone to develop coronary artery disease if you have a family history of the condition. This is particularly true if a close relative (parent, sibling) experienced early-onset heart disease. If your mother or sister had heart disease before age 65 or if your father or brother had it before age 55, your risk is higher.
- Smoking. Smoking is harmful for the heart. Smokers are considerably more likely to get heart disease. The risk is also increased by breathing in secondhand smoke.
- High blood pressure. Arterial stiffness is a condition where uncontrolled high blood pressure makes arteries hard and inflexible. Blood flow may be slowed by the narrowing of the coronary arteries.
- High cholesterol. The risk of atherosclerosis can rise if the amount of harmful cholesterol in the blood is high. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is the term for harmful cholesterol. Atherosclerosis is also brought on by low levels of HDL, or high-density lipoprotein.
- Diabetes. Coronary artery disease is more likely in those with diabetes. Obesity and high blood pressure are two risk factors for both type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease.
- Overweight or obesity. Being obese is harmful to the health. Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure can both be brought on by obesity. It is necessary to find out what your healthy weight is from your doctor.
- Chronic kidney disease. Coronary artery disease is more likely in people who have chronic renal illness.
- Sedentary lifestyle. It’s crucial to stay active for healthy health. Sedentary behavior and a lack of exercise have been related to coronary artery disease and some of its risk factors.
- A lot of stress. Stress on an emotional level might increase other coronary heart disease risk factors and harm the arteries.
- Unhealthy diet. Consuming foods high in salt, sugar, trans fat, and saturated fat can raise your chance of developing coronary artery disease.
- Alcohol use. Heart muscle injury might result from heavy alcohol consumption. Additionally, it may make other coronary artery disease risk factors worse.
- Amount of sleep. Both insufficient and excessive sleep have been associated with an elevated risk of heart disease.
Risk factors frequently coexist. A risk factor may cause another to emerge.
Certain risk factors increase your likelihood of developing coronary artery disease when they are combined. For instance, the risk of coronary artery disease is raised by the metabolic syndrome, a group of illnesses marked by high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and high triglyceride levels.
In some cases, coronary artery disease may occur without any identifiable risk factors. However, there are other potential risk factors that could contribute to the development of the disease, including:
- Obstructive sleep apnea. During sleep, this condition causes breathing to cease and start. It might result in decreases in blood oxygen levels. The heart must exert more effort. Increase in blood pressure.
- High-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP). When there is inflammation in the body, this protein is present in higher amounts than usual. Heart disease risk may be increased by high hs-CRP levels. It is believed that the blood level of hs-CRP increases when coronary arteries narrow.
- High triglycerides. High amounts of triglycerides, especially in women, may increase the risk of coronary artery disease.
- Homocysteine. The body employs the amino acid homocysteine to create protein and to build and maintain tissue. However, coronary artery disease risk may be increased by high homocysteine levels.
- Preeclampsia. High blood pressure and increased protein in the urine are complications associated with this pregnancy issue. Later in adulthood, It may increase the risk of developing heart disease.
- Complications during pregnancy. Another established risk factor for coronary artery disease is diabetes or high blood pressure during pregnancy.
- Autoimmune diseases. Atherosclerosis risk is higher in those with inflammatory diseases including lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, among others.