Coronary artery disease (CAD) occurs when the arteries that supply blood to the heart (the coronary arteries) become hardened and narrowed. Hardening of the arteries happens because of plaque buildup called atherosclerosis. Eventually, the blood flow to the heart becomes reduced or cutoff, which can lead to a heart attack, or even heart failure. CAD is the most common type of heart disease and is the leading cause of death in the U.S in men and women.
Preventive care is the key to reducing your chances of getting this disease and other vascular diseases. Risk factors include high blood pressure and cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, being overweight and lack of activity. Coronary artery disease is treated by an angioplasty procedure or coronary artery bypass surgery. The angioplasty procedure opens the blocked coronary arteries by using a stent. This improves blood flow and possibly prevents a heart attack. The coronary artery bypass surgery takes arteries or veins from other areas of the body and uses them to bypass the diseased artery.