Coronary artery disease (CAD) – also known as coronary heart disease – often results from the accumulation of fatty deposits or plaque within the coronary arteries. These fatty deposits may develop as early as in childhood and continue to thicken and change throughout the lifespan. This thickening, called atherosclerosis, narrows the arteries and can decrease or block the flow of blood to the heart.
How Signs and Symptoms of Heart Disease Differ for Men and Women
Nearly 16 million people suffer from coronary artery disease. It is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States, accounting for 1 in 7 deaths in the United States – killing more than 360,000 people each year.
The coronary arteries supply blood to the heart muscle. Like all other tissues in the body, the heart muscle needs oxygen-rich blood to function, and oxygen-depleted blood must be carried away. When the flow of blood through the coronary arteries to the heart is partially or completely blocked, serious problems such as a heart attack can occur.
The symptoms of CAD will depend on the severity of the disease, but often include chest pain called angina.