Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)
Coronary heart disease (CHD), or coronary artery disease, develops when the coronary arteries become too narrow. The coronary arteries are the blood vessels that supply oxygen and blood to the heart. CHD tends to develop when cholesterol builds up on the artery walls, creating plaques. These plaques cause the arteries to narrow, reducing blood flow to the heart. A clot can sometimes obstruct the blood flow, causing serious health problems. Coronary arteries form the network of blood vessels on the surface of the heart that feed it oxygen. If these arteries narrow, the heart may not receive enough oxygen rich blood, especially during physical activity. CHD can sometimes lead to heart attack. It is the “most common type of heart disease in the United States,” where it accounts for more than 370,000 deaths every year.
- CHD develops as a result of injury or damage to the inner layer of a coronary artery. This damage causes fatty deposits of plaque to build up at the injury site.
- These deposits consist of cholesterol and other waste products from cells. This buildup is called atherosclerosis.
- If pieces of plaque break off or rupture, platelets will cluster in the area in an attempt to repair the blood vessel. This cluster can block the artery and reduce or block blood flow, which may lead to a heart attack.
CHD can lead to angina. This is a type of chest pain linked to heart disease.
Angina may cause the following feelings across the chest:
Angina might also cause the following symptoms:
CHD can also lead to shortness of breath. If the heart and other organs do not receive enough oxygen, any form of exertion can become very tiring, which may cause a person to pant for air.
Heart attack occurs when the heart muscle does not have enough blood or oxygen, such as when a blood clot develops from plaque in one of the coronary arteries.
The formation of a blood clot is called coronary thrombosis. This clot, if it is big enough, can stop the supply of blood to the heart.
There is no cure for CHD. However, there are ways that a person can manage the condition.
Treatment tends to involve making healthful lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, adopting a healthful diet, and getting regular exercise.
However, some people may need to take medications or undergo medical procedures.
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