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Coronary arteries carry blood to the heart, thereby supplying oxygen and nutrients required for it to function. Coronary artery disease(CAD) indicates damage to these arteries. The condition is characterized by the narrowing or hardening of the arteries due to the accumulation of cholesterol and other substances, known as plaque, inside the arteries.
Coronary heart disease often develops over decades, as more and more plaque gets accumulated within the arteries. So symptoms usually show up during the later stages when there is a significant amount of blockage. CAD may cause severe chest pain, breathlessness or a heart attack in patients.
What are the causes of CAD?
The heart receives its own supply of oxygen-rich blood from the coronary arteries. There are two major coronary arteries namely left main coronary artery and right main coronary artery, which branch off from the aorta.
The most common cause of CAD is the hardening of arteries due to cholesterol plaque buildup, known as atherosclerosis. This leads to complete or partial blockage of arteries thereby reducing blood flow to the heart. Reduced blood flow to the heart can trigger off symptoms of CAD. Other factors leading to atherosclerosis are:
What are the risk factors associated with CAD?
How to diagnose CAD and what are the treatments available?
Diagnosis of CAD begins with a study of your medical history followed by physical examination and routine blood tests. Your physician will then perform one or more of the following tests:
Coronary artery disease may be treated in one of the following ways:
Making healthy lifestyle changes are the primary steps to better heart health and best defense against coronary artery disease and its complications.