Skip to content

    Heart Disease Health Center

    Select An Article

    Coronary Artery Disease

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Coronary artery disease, also called coronary heart disease, or simply, heart disease, is the No. 1 killer in America, affecting more than 13 million Americans.

    Heart disease is a result of plaque buildup in your arteries, which blocks blood flow and heightens the risk for heart attack and stroke.

    Recommended Related to Heart Disease

    Atherosclerosis: What’s Happening Inside Your Arteries?

    Ever wish you could see inside your arteries? These blood vessels deliver oxygen-rich blood to every corner of our bodies. Maintaining the flow is essential to life and health. Atherosclerosis causes narrowing and hardening of the arteries, creating slowdowns in blood flow. Even worse, atherosclerosis can trigger sudden blood clots. Heart attacks and strokes are the often-deadly result. If we could see what was going on in our arteries, we might think twice about our lifestyle choices. Could...

    Read the Atherosclerosis: What’s Happening Inside Your Arteries? article > >

    What Is Coronary Artery Disease?

    Heart disease is a result of plaque buildup in your coronary arteries -- a condition called atherosclerosis -- that leads to blockages. The arteries, which start out smooth and elastic, become narrow and rigid, restricting blood flow to the heart. The heart becomes starved of oxygen and the vital nutrients it needs to pump properly.

    How Does Coronary Artery Disease Develop?

    From a young age, cholesterol-laden plaque can start to deposit in the blood vessel walls. As you get older, the plaque burden builds up, inflaming the blood vessel walls and raising the risk of blood clots and heart attack. The plaques release chemicals that promote the process of healing but make the inner walls of the blood vessel sticky. Then, other substances, such as inflammatory cells, lipoproteins, and calcium that travel in your bloodstream start sticking to the inside of the vessel walls.

    Eventually, a narrowed coronary artery may develop new blood vessels that go around the blockage to get blood to the heart. However, during times of increased exertion or stress, the new arteries may not be able to supply enough oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle.

    In some cases, a blood clot may totally block the blood supply to the heart muscle, causing heart attack. If a blood vessel to the brain is blocked, usually from a blood clot, an ischemic stroke can result. If a blood vessel within the brain bursts, most likely as a result of uncontrolled hypertension (high blood pressure), a hemorrhagic stroke can result.

    1 | 2 | 3
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    x-ray of human heart
    A visual guide.
    atrial fibrillation
    Symptoms and causes.
     
    heart rate graph
    10 things to never do.
    heart rate
    Get the facts.
     
    empty football helmet
    Article
    red wine
    Video
     
    eating blueberries
    Article
    Simple Steps to Lower Cholesterol
    Slideshow
     
    Inside A Heart Attack
    SLIDESHOW
    Omega 3 Sources
    SLIDESHOW
     
    Salt Shockers
    SLIDESHOW
    lowering blood pressure
    SLIDESHOW