Coronary disease

From WikiMD's Health & Wellness Encyclopedia

Interference with the heart's blood supply, typically by clogging of coronary, or other, arteries. Ischemia means lack of oxygen which necessarily follows from one or more blocked arteries.

Coronary heart disease


Coronary artery disease (CAD) is a disorder that affects the blood vessels that supply the heart muscle with blood. The disease is distinguished by the accumulation of fatty deposits, or plaque (atherosclerosis), in the coronary arteries, which can restrict or obstruct blood flow to the heart.


In many countries, including the United States, CAD is a leading cause of death and disability. CAD is estimated to cause one out of every six deaths in the United States.


CAD can manifest as chest pain, shortness of breath, heart attack, and other serious health issues.

Blausen 0257 CoronaryArtery Plaque.png

Risk Factors and Causes

Causes: It is not fully understood what causes CAD, but it is believed that genetic and lifestyle factors play a role.

Risk Factors: High blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, obesity, inactivity, unhealthy diet, family history, and age are all risk factors for coronary artery disease. People with these risk factors are more likely to develop coronary artery disease (CAD) over time.

Coronary Artery Disease Diagnosis

Medical Background and Physical Exam: CAD is typically diagnosed through a review of the patient's medical history and physical examination. The physician will inquire about the patient's symptoms and risk factors, as well as conduct a physical examination in search of CAD symptoms.

Imaging Tests: Coronary angiography and computed tomography angiography (CTA) are used to confirm the presence of plaque called atherosclerosis buildup in the coronary arteries and to assess the severity of the disease.

Heart attack diagram

Treatment of Coronary Artery Disease

Lifestyle Alterations: CAD is initially treated with lifestyle modifications, such as exercise, a healthy diet, weight loss, and quitting smoking. These modifications can reduce the risk of coronary artery disease and improve overall health.

Treatments: CAD can also be treated with medications such as cholesterol-lowering drugs, blood pressure-lowering drugs, and aspirin.

Invasive Procedures: In more advanced instances, invasive procedures such as coronary artery bypass surgery or angioplasty may be required. These treatments can help to improve the patient's symptoms and restore blood flow to the heart.


Coronary artery disease is a prevalent and potentially fatal condition that affects the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart muscle. It is essential for medical students to understand the causes, risk factors, and treatments for coronary artery disease (CAD), as they will help patients prevent, diagnose, and manage this condition in the future.

The study of CAD is a crucial component of medical education, as it provides students with a deeper understanding of this prevalent and serious condition. By mastering the knowledge and skills required to diagnose and treat CAD, medical students will be well-prepared to provide patients with high-quality care.


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