Overview of Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary artery disease (CAD) is a narrowing of the coronary arteries that supply blood and oxygen to the heart. CAD is usually caused by a process called atherosclerosis. With atherosclerosis, fat, cholesterol, and other substances build up in the coronary arteries. This buildup, often called plaque, irritates and scars the arteries, causing them to become hard and thickened.
Over time, atherosclerosis narrows the opening that blood passes through, limiting the amount of blood delivered to your heart. When this happens, you have coronary artery disease – the most common form of heart disease.
Risk factors for coronary artery disease include anything that damages your arteries. Some of these risk factors are beyond your control, such as your family medical history or your age. Yet other risk factors can be changed, and include your lifestyle choices such as smoking, diet, and your activity level.
How do you know if you have coronary artery disease? Unfortunately, many people don't know they have it until the disease is fairly advanced. At this point, they may experience angina or a heart attack.
These drawings show the process of atherosclerosis. Fat, cholesterol, and other substances build up in the coronary arteries. Over time, this narrows the arteries – and limits the amount of blood that passes through them to your heart muscle.
Coronary Artery Disease in Depth
Learn more about coronary artery disease from Intermountain's Patient Education Library:
Diagnostic Tests for Coronary Artery Disease
Treatments for Coronary Artery Disease
Your doctor will discuss your treatment options with you. Possible treatments for coronary artery disease include:
Services and Programs
Services and programs at Intermountain Heart Institute for patients with coronary artery disease