Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common type of heart disease. It is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States.
Causes and Symptoms of Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary artery disease is caused by hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis occurs when plaque, a fatty material made up of cholesterol, calcium and other substances, builds up inside the arteries. When this build-up occurs in the arteries that supply blood to the heart, it is called coronary artery disease.
Symptoms, which often do not occur until after age 50, generally occur with exercise and can include:
- Angina (chest pain)
- Shortness of breath
- Heart attack. Too often, a heart attack is the first symptom of coronary artery disease
Diagnosing Coronary Artery Disease
The following tests are used to confirm the presence of coronary artery disease:
- Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG), which checks for problems with the electrical activity of your heart. An EKG can also show signs of an old or new heart attack
- Chest X-ray
- Blood tests
- Exercise electrocardiogram, commonly called a "stress test." This test checks for changes in your heart while you exercise
Treatment for Coronary Artery Disease