Coronary artery disease occurs
when the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart muscle (coronary
arteries) are narrowed or blocked. This narrowing or blockage most often is
caused by the buildup of fatty deposits, which is called atherosclerosis, or
hardening of the arteries.
Atherosclerosis -- hardening and narrowing of the arteries -- gets a lot of bad press, with good reason. This progressive process silently and slowly blocks arteries, putting blood flow at risk.
Atherosclerosis is the usual cause of heart attacks, strokes, and peripheral vascular disease -- what together are called "cardiovascular disease." Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer in America, with more than 800,000 deaths in 2005.
How does atherosclerosis develop? Who gets it, and why? This...
High blood pressure increases the risk
of atherosclerosis by damaging the lining of the arteries and increasing the
likelihood that fatty deposits may form in them. Over time, this can lead to a
Hypertensive heart disease
occurs when high blood pressure causes the walls of the lower left heart
chamber (left ventricle) to become thick and stiff, which affects the heart's
pumping ability. This may in turn lead to heart failure, a condition in which
the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the needs of the body.
Your risk for heart disease depends on blood pressure, other risk factors
for heart disease, and whether your high blood pressure has caused organ
Primary Medical Reviewer
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD - Cardiology
April 4, 2011
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
April 04, 2011
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