Coronary artery disease (CAD) is a condition that affects the arteries that supply blood and oxygen to the heart. Impaired blood flow in the arteries that supply blood to the heart is caused by coronary artery disease (CAD), also known as coronary heart disease (CHD). This condition is the most common form of heart disease. The buildup of plaque in the heart’s arteries can lead to a heart attack. In the case of coronary artery disease, plaque begins to accumulate within the walls of the coronary arteries, eventually restricting blood flow to the heart’s muscles, a condition known as ischemia. This can occur chronically, as the coronary artery gradually narrows over time and limits blood supply to a portion of the muscle, or acutely, as a result of sudden plaque rupture and the formation of a thrombus or blood clot.

Symptoms of coronary artery disease

Insufficient arterial blood supply to the heart can result in a range of symptoms. The most prevalent symptom of CAD is angina or chest discomfort, also often described by some people as

  • Chest pain
  • Heaviness in the chest
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Burning or squeezing sensations in the chest
  • Pain in the arms or shoulders
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating 
  • Dizziness

Causes of coronary artery disease

Atherosclerosis, which is the accumulation of cholesterol plaque in the arteries due to a vascular injury, is the leading cause of CAD. When one or more of these arteries become partially or completely obstructed, blood flow is reduced. Occasionally, there may be other unusual causes of damage or blockage to a coronary artery that can also restrict blood flow to the heart. Risk factors for CAD may include

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Inactivity
  • Unhealthy eating habits
  • Excessive alcohol

How coronary artery disease is diagnosed?

The diagnosis of CAD necessitates an examination of your medical history, a physical examination, and several medical tests. These tests may include:

  • Electrocardiogram
  • Echocardiogram
  • Stress test
  • Cardiac catheterization
  • Heart CT scan

Coronary artery disease treatments

Treatment of CAD mainly depends on the severity of the situation, current condition, risk factors involved, etc. The most common treatment recommended by cardiologists are lifestyle changes like quitting tobacco, reduced consumption of alcohol, regular exercise, weight loss, healthy diet, etc, and medications. If the situation does not get any better with medicines or lifestyle changes, the cardiologist may suggest some procedures including:

  • Balloon angioplasty
  • Coronary artery bypass graft surgery
  • Enhanced external counterpulsation