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Coronary Artery Disease

What is Coronary Artery Disease?

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) on your arteries are usually to blame for coronary artery disease.


As the plaques continue to build up in your coronary arteries, however, you may develop coronary artery disease symptoms, including:

  • Chest Pain (angina)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart attack

Causes and Risk Factors

Coronary artery disease is thought to begin with damage or injury to the inner layer of a coronary artery. The damage may be caused by various factors, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Family history
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • High stress
  • Obesity
  • Physical inactivity
  • Smoking


Your healthcare provider will ask questions about your medical history, do a physical exam and order routine blood tests. He or she may suggest one or more diagnostic tests as well, including:

  • Cardiac catheterization
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)
  • Echocardiogram (ECHO)
  • Nuclear studies
  • Stress test


Treatment for coronary artery disease usually involves lifestyle changes and, if necessary, drugs and certain medical procedures. Procedures to restore and improve blood flow are:

  • Angioplasty and stents
  • Bypass surgery
  • Prevention

The same lifestyle habits that can help treat coronary artery disease can also help prevent it from developing in the first place. Leading a healthy lifestyle can help keep your arteries strong and clear of plaques. To improve your heart health, you can:

  • Be physically active
  • Control conditions, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes
  • Eat healthy food
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Reduce and manage stress
  • Quit smoking