Coronary Artery Disease - Cause
Coronary artery disease is
caused by hardening of the arteries, or
atherosclerosis. This means that fatty deposits called plaque
build up inside the arteries. Arteries are the blood vessels that carry
oxygen-rich blood throughout your body.
Atherosclerosis can affect any
arteries in the body. When it occurs in the arteries that supply blood to the
heart (the coronary arteries ), it is called coronary artery disease.
When plaque builds
up in the coronary arteries, the heart doesn't get the blood it needs to work
well. This is called ischemia (say "is-KEE-mee-uh"). Ischemia can cause symptoms such as chest pain or pressure. Over time, ischemia can weaken or damage the heart.
If the plaque breaks apart, it can cause a heart attack. A tear or rupture in the plaque tells the body to repair the injured artery lining, much as the body might heal a cut on the skin. A blood clot forms to seal the area. The blood clot can completely block blood flow to the heart muscle and cause a heart attack .