Coronary artery disease (CAD) is a blockage or narrowing of human arteries associated with a buildup of plaques (Cleveland Clinic, n.d). Coronary artery disease is also known as coronary heart disease, ischemic heart disease, and heart disease. To fully understand the process and changes that happen because of disease, it is important to observe the working principle of the coronary arteries. As mentioned by Cleveland Clinic (n. d), there are four main coronary arteries in the human body: the right coronary artery, the left coronary artery, the left anterior descending artery, and the left circumflex artery. The function of these blood vessels is to supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart to keep it pumping (Cleveland Clinic, n.d). The coronary arteries are located directly on the top of the human heart muscles.
Atherosclerosis is the main condition that provokes coronary artery disease. Atherosclerosis creates plaques inside arteries that are collected on the artery walls making them narrow and stiffen (Cleveland Clinic, n.d). Plaque is made of cholesterol, fatty substances, waste products, clot-making substance fibrin, and calcium (Cleveland Clinic, n.d). The presence of the plague in arteries could damage or block blood flow to the heart. Without an appropriate amount of oxygen that is delivered with the blood, the heart muscle could not operate well. This condition is known as ischemia, which leads to chest discomfort or pain with the high risk of a heart attack.
It is crucial to know that coronary artery disease is a widespread condition. The process of plaque formation begins at young ages; however, fat streaks in blood vessels appear prior before teen years (Cleveland Clinic, n.d). Plaques stored in the artery’s inner walls are attacked by ongoing processes in the body, but this attack triggers more inflammations. According to Cleveland Clinic (n.d), a soft cap is formed over the plaque. Affected by blood pressure, the thin cap could break open. Platelets, the fragmented blood cell, stick to the injured part forming a clot (Cleveland Clinic, n.d). Two possible outcomes could occur related to a blood clot. In the first scenario, blood breaks apart on its own (Cleveland Clinic, n.d). In the second, tragic one, a clot clogs blood flow through the artery causing a heart attack.
The Electrocardiogram (ECG) is a common method of coronary artery disease diagnosis. The ECG records the electrical impulses in the heart and detects abnormalities related to the heart’s rhythm (Cleveland Clinic, n.d). The ECG could show evidence of previous heart attacks as well as the present conditions. The ECG is not a perfect investigation method, as in some circumstances heart attacks may have appeared with the normal ECG results. To fully understand and correctly diagnosis coronary artery disease other methods besides the ECG should be conducted. Other methods of diagnosis include a pharmacological stress test, coronary calcium scan, echocardiogram, blood tests, and cardiac catheterization (Cleveland Clinic, n.d).
Coronary artery diseases are induced by different factors including lifestyle, genetics, and age. Increased risk of coronary artery disease is related to a high cholesterol level, high blood pressure, and diabetes (Cleveland Clinic, n.d). Moreover, this condition could be transferred genetically from one generation to another. A physically inactive lifestyle, obesity, and bad habits such as smoking are also important factors for disease formation (Cleveland Clinic, n.d). The diseases could not be fully eliminated or prevented; nevertheless, some procedures could reduce their risks. This is explained by the fact that coronary artery disease has two risk factors: nonmodifiable and modifiable. Cleveland Clinics (n.d) states that nonmodifiable factor such as older age, male gender or family disease history is out of human control. While modifiable risk factor such as smoking, keeping blood pressure high is managed by people. The main way to prevent coronary artery disease is to change lifestyle and avoid modifiable risk factors.
Coronary Artery Disease: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatments. Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.).