DefinitionBy Mayo Clinic staff
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.
When plaques build up, they narrow your coronary arteries, causing your heart to receive less blood. Eventually, the decreased blood flow may cause chest pain (angina), shortness of breath, or other coronary artery disease signs and symptoms. A complete blockage can cause a heart attack.
Because coronary artery disease often develops over decades, it can go virtually unnoticed until you have a heart attack. But there's plenty you can do to prevent and treat coronary artery disease. Start by committing to a healthy lifestyle.
- Coronary artery disease. National Lung, Heart, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/Cad/CAD_WhatIs.html. Accessed May 22, 2012.
- Hall SL, et al. Secondary prevention of coronary artery disease. American Family Physician. 2010;81:289.
- The seventh report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation and Treatment of High Blood Pressure. Bethesda, Md.: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/hypertension/. Accessed May 9, 2012.
- Executive summary of the Third Report of the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults (Adult Treatment Panel III). National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/cholesterol/index.htm. Accessed May 9, 2012.
- Natural medicines in the clinical management of hyperlipidemia. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. http://www.naturaldatabase.com. Accessed May 9, 2012.
- Natural medicines in the clinical management of hypertension. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. http://www.naturaldatabase.com. Accessed May 9, 2012.
- Fish and omega-3 fatty acids. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyDietGoals/Fish-and-Omega-3-Fatty-Acids_UCM_303248_Article.jsp. Accessed May 23, 2012.
- Wilson PWF. Overview of the risk factors for cardiovascular disease. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed May 23, 2012.