Coronary Artery Disease (CAD), also known as coronary heart disease, is a condition characterized by the narrowing of the coronary arteries, which supply blood, oxygen, and nutrients to the heart muscle. This narrowing is primarily due to the buildup of plaque, a mixture of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances found in the blood.

The development of CAD typically follows this process:

  1. Initiation of Atherosclerosis: Damage occurs to the inner wall of the coronary artery. This damage can be caused by various factors, including high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol, insulin resistance, and inflammation.
  2. Plaque Formation: Once the artery wall is damaged, LDL cholesterol (often referred to as “bad” cholesterol) begins to accumulate at the site. Over time, cholesterol, cellular waste, calcium, and other substances build up in the artery wall, forming plaque.
  3. Plaque Progression: As more plaque accumulates, it grows larger and starts to harden, which narrows the coronary arteries and reduces the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle.
  4. Complications: The surface of the plaque can eventually rupture, causing blood cells called platelets to clump at the site to try to repair the artery. This clumping can block the artery, leading to a heart attack or other serious heart problems.

The development of CAD is gradual and can progress silently over decades, often without symptoms until a significant blockage or a heart attack occurs. Regular check-ups and managing risk factors are crucial to detect and slow down the progression of this disease.

Last Update: May 28, 2024