Coronary artery disease (CAD) remains the leading cause of death in the United States. CAD is hardening and narrowing of the coronary arteries wrap around the heart. The most common cause of death in both women and men over 50 is CAD, and not cancer.
The human heart is about the size of a fist. It is located behind the breastbone in the center of your chest, between the right and left lung.
Coronary arteries are located on the surface of the heart and supply oxygen and nutrients to the heart muscle to work effectively.
The right coronary artery feeds the right and bottom sides of the heart. The left anterior descending feeds the front left, and the circumflex artery supplies the back of the heart. When these arteries become blocked by plaque buildup, they become narrow, in a process known as atherosclerosis.
The most common symptom of CAD is chest pain, which we call angina. Other symptoms can include shortness of breath, shoulder and arm pain, light-headedness, nausea, and fatigue.
Because for some patients the first sign of CAD is a heart attack, it is vital for everyone to maintain a healthy lifestyle and have their physicians routinely monitor blood pressure, blood sugar, and blood cholesterol levels.