What is Coronary Artery Disease

What is Coronary Artery Disease?
What is Coronary Artery Disease?

Coronary heart disease (CHD), also known as coronary artery disease, stems from the accumulation of plaque within the coronary arteries, which supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle. This build-up, known as atherosclerosis, develops gradually over years as plaque composed of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances hardens and narrows the arteries.

The narrowing of arteries restricts blood flow to the heart muscle, leading to symptoms such as angina (chest pain) or, in severe cases, a heart attack. Angina may manifest as discomfort, pressure, or squeezing in the chest, often radiating to the shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or back.

A heart attack occurs when a blood clot forms on the surface of ruptured plaque, completely obstructing blood flow to a section of heart muscle. Without prompt restoration of blood flow, the affected heart muscle begins to die, potentially resulting in serious complications or death.

Over time, reduced blood flow to the heart can weaken the heart muscle, leading to conditions like heart failure and arrhythmias. In heart failure, the heart’s pumping function is impaired, resulting in symptoms like shortness of breath and fatigue. Arrhythmias indicate abnormalities in heart rate or rhythm.

Coronary artery disease is a leading cause of mortality in both men and women. However, early diagnosis and treatment can significantly improve prognosis and mitigate adverse outcomes.