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Coronary Artery Disease by Vera Kozlova

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According to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, a coronary artery disease is a condition in which plaque builds up inside the arteries that supply oxygen rich blood to your heart muscle.  These arteries are called coronary arteries.  Abbreviated CAD, this disease is the leading cause of death and the most common heart disease in men and women.  CAD has signs that people can recognize.  There are also risk factors so people know what to avoid.

Basically, the CAD is when arteries that provide blood to the heart muscle start getting hardened and narrowed.  The building of cholesterol and plaque on the inner walls is what causes this disease.  This buildup is called atherosclerosis and as it builds, less blood can travel through the arteries.  The heart, therefore, can’t receive the blood or oxygen it really needs.  This leads to chest pains and heart attacks.   Some major risk factors are high blood pressure, smoking, obesity, and not enough physical activity.  High blood pressure is when it stays at or above 140/90 mmHg.  Smoking limits the amount of oxygen that reaches the tissues of the body.

Obesity is considered when the body weight is greater than when it should be for a certain height.  Lack of physical activity can even cause other risk factors to worsen.   There are indeed signs and symptoms of an upcoming CAD.  Angina is a common one.  In angina, one feels pressure or squeezing in the chest.  Another common one is shortness of breath, which can cause heart failure.  This means that fluid builds up in your lungs, making it hard to breath.  This happens because not enough blood is pumped to meet up to your body’s needs.

In diagnosis, there are many ways to find out if you have this disease.  Three of them are Coronary Angiography and Cardiac Catheterization, EKG (Electrocardiogram), and Stress Testing.  First off, Coronary Angiography and Cardiac Catheterization is a test using dye and special x rays to show the inside of the coronary arteries.  The doctor will use a procedure that requires inserting a thin tube into a blood vessel in the arm or neck.  The tube leads into the coronary arteries and the dye is released into the bloodstream.  The doctor can study the flow of blood through the heart and blood vessels by watching the dye.  Secondly, the EKG is a simple test that detects the electrical activity of the heart.  This test shows the rate of the heart and timing of electrical signals.  Last of all, Stress Testing is done by getting your heart rate to speed up by exercise or medicine.  When the heart rate is up, the heart needs more blood and oxygen.  Arteries with plaque can’t provide enough of it.  Therefore, the test can show how well the blood is flowing in the heart.  So after all, CAD can be treated.



U.S Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.  (2011).  Explore Coronary Heart Disease.  Retrieved March 22, 2012 from

U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.  (2012).  Coronary Artery Disease.  Retrieved March 22, 2012 from



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