Friday, July 31, 2020

Coronary Artery Disease

The heart is a muscle that pumps blood around the body through a series of pipes. These pipes are called arteries. The left side of the heart receives fresh, oxygen-rich blood from the lungs and then pumps it out a large artery called the aorta that branches into smaller arteries that go to all parts of the body.

Coronary heart disease (CHD), also called coronary artery disease, is the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women. CHD occurs when plaque builds up inside the coronary arteries.

Plaque is made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances found in the blood. Over time, plaque hardens and narrows the arteries, reducing blood flow to the heart muscle. When plaque builds up in the arteries, the condition is called atherosclerosis. The buildup of plaque occurs over many years.

Coronary artery disease is caused by a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors.

These are called risk factors. The following risk factors are important to be aware of but are not considered to be controllable:
• Age. As the person get older, the risk of heart disease increases
• Gender. Age of 55 are at higher risk of heart disease. For persons aged 40 years, the lifetime risk of developing coronary heart disease is 49 percent in men and 32 percent in women. After menopause, a woman’s risk of heart disease gradually becomes the same as a man’s
• Heredity. Risk of heart disease is increased if close family members—a parent brother or sister—developed heart disease before age 55 or, in the case of female relatives, before menopause.
• Ethnicity

The risk factors that can be controlled are:
• Smoking
• Excess fats and cholesterol in the blood
• High blood pressure (hypertension)
• Abnormal blood cholesterol levels
• Lack of regular exercise
• Excess sugar in the blood (often due to diabetes)
• Excessive stress levels
• Depression

Research suggests that coronary artery disease starts when certain factors damage the inner layers of the coronary arteries. These factors include smoking, high amounts of certain fats and cholesterol in the blood, high blood pressure, and high amounts of sugar in the blood due to insulin resistance or diabetes.

When damage occurs, your body starts a healing process. This process causes plaque to build up where the arteries are damaged.

Coronary artery disease makes it more difficult for oxygen-rich blood to move through arteries. Common symptoms of coronary artery disease include:
• Angina: Upper body pain or pressure. Angina is chest pain or discomfort. It may feel like pressure or squeezing in the chest. The pain also can occur in the shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or back. Angina pain may even feel like indigestion.
• Shortness of breath: Shortness of breath (dyspnea) with exertion, or chest tightness, squeezing, or burning.
Coronary Artery Disease

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