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Coronary artery disease

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Micrograph of coronary artery showing clot

Coronary Artery disease also known as ischemic heart disease is a disease that consists of many diseases such as: [stable angina], unstable angina, myocardial infarction, and sudden [cardiac] death. A super common symptom of this disease is chest pain or discomfort of certain parts of your body around the heart like your shoulder or neck. Symptoms like these usually occur for only a few minutes and after exercise or with stress. The first sign depicting coronary artery disease is usually a heart attack followed by heart failure and commonly can also include an irregular heart beat. Many risk factors can cause an ischemic heart disease; such risk factors can include: smoking, diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol and depression. Preventing this disease must include healthy diets and good exercise routines. Medically prescribed drugs can also help prevent this disease. In 2013 Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) was the most common cause of death globally, resulting in 8.14 million deaths compared to the 5.74 million deaths in 1990. The number of cases of CAD for a given age has also decreased between 1990 and 2010. In the United States in 2010 about 20% of those over 65 had Coronary Artery Disease, while it was present in 7% of those 45 to 64, and 1.3% of those 18 to 45. Men are more likely to get CAD than women.[1]


Pathophysiology is the disordered physiological processes associated with disease or injury. Coronary Heart Disease is caused when a clot in the main arteries limits the blood and oxygen flow for the cells which can suffocate the cells of oxygen and eventually kill then. Common symptoms can include chest pains, heart aches and even heart attacks. Heart attacks can lead to the scarring and destruction of heart tissue without ability for muscle regrowth. This disease usually happens when the lining of the coronary artery (the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle)[2] develop into atherosclerosis which is when artery-wall thickens as a result of invasion and accumulation of white blood cells. Once this happens the artery walls become stiff, hardened and swollen with fatty and calcium deposits; also known as plaque.

Atherosclerosis is just an early stage of an even deadlier disease known as arteriosclerosis. Arteriosclerosis is the thickening, hardening and loss of elasticity of the walls of arteries[3]. Almost fifty percent of all patients with arteriosclerosis die due to the blockage of their arteries.The worst kind of coronary disease is called chronic total occlusion which is when the artery is totally blocked by plaque. Scientist have still not figured out why but women are more likely to have this disease then men.

Image showing clot of artery

Risk Factors

Coronary Heart Disease can be caused by many factors including smoking, hypertension, obesity and many more health factors. A persons genetic code can also be a factor if an earlier ancestor carried a gene for this disease. Obesity and smoking have resulted in over fifty-six percent of all cases of coronary heart disease. Stress from work related scenarios can also be a main factor in plaque build up. Some symptoms of this disease may include chest pains, shortness of breath, and even heart attacks. Coronary artery disease is caused by the wearing or tearing of the inner layers of the artery walls.

Once the wall is damaged it can tend to accumulate plaque more often which can lead to serious consequences. Due to the fact that the walls are now thinner, this can lead to a rupture in the walls which will end up causing a blood clot to try to repair the tear but can also put you at risk of a heart attack.

Management and Prevention

Zoomed in image showing clot in coronary artery

There are many ways to treat Coronary Artery Disease such as the basic life style change, medical treatment like proscribed drugs, Coronary inventions like the angioplasty or a coronary splint, and last but not least just by getting a coronary artery bypass[1]. A main medication usually proscribed to people with this disease by doctors is just the basic aspirin. Aspirin lowers the risk of myocardial infarction, which is another word for a heart attack. However, aspirin can also increase the risk of internal bleeding especially from in and around the stomach. Surgery is another way to get rid of this disease. One surgery is the coronary artery bypass grafts which is a surgical procedure made to restore normal blood flow to the obstructed coronary artery.

If many risk factors are avoided, up to ninety percent of all coronary artery diseases an be avoided[4]. Some ways of prevention can include exercise, decreasing obesity, treating hypertension, having a healthy diet, and having good cholesterol levels. High levels of physical activity reduce the risk of coronary artery disease by about 25%. The World Health Organization recommends that having little alcohol intake can decrease the risk of coronary artery disease. Having a good diet consisting of high amounts of fruits and vegetables can decrease the risks as well.


Overview of Coronary Artery disease

Circulatory Diseases


  1. 1.0 1.1 " "Coronary Artery Disease" Coronary Artery Disease. last modified on 6 November 2016, at 16:01.Unknown Author
  2. "Coronary Artery Disease" U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. last updated on 1 November 2016.Unknown author
  3. Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) Centers for Disease and Control Prevention. Page last updated: August 10, 2015. Unknown author
  4. Clinic, Mayo . Overview of Coronary Heart Disease Overview of Coronary Heart Disease. Last accessed November 7, 2016