As the name indicates, coronary artery disease (CAD) occurs when major blood vessels that lead to the heart become damaged or diseased. One of the leading causes of CAD is cholesterol – which forms plaques in the coronary arteries. This can lead to reduced blood flow to the heart. If left untreated, it can lead to serious health conditions and even death. In this article, we shall delve deeper and explore its symptoms, detailed causes and implications on health, and more.
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What are the Symptoms?
The symptoms of coronary artery disease are not immediately apparent. Moreover, the disease that affects the arteries and veins might have various causes and hence their exact symptoms may vary. For instance, one of the causes for Deep Vein Thrombosis is sitting for long periods of time, usually when flying or driving. Its symptoms include swelling in the affected leg followed by pain and discolouration. Common symptoms of coronary artery diseases include:
- Shortness of breath
- Angina (chest pain)
- Myocardial infarction (heart attack)
A myocardial infarction or a heart attack must always be treated as a medical emergency. This is because it has the potential to turn fatal if medical attention is not sought on time. Other risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity can exacerbate this condition. Symptoms of a myocardial infarction includes a crushing / sharp pain that starts in the chest and radiates towards the neck or jaw. Other symptoms include shortness of breath, nausea and fatigue. However, a heart attack can also occur without any apparent signs or symptoms.
Causes of Coronary Artery Disease
In the majority of cases, coronary artery disease is believed to be caused by unhealthy practices and sedentary lifestyle. This includes:
- Consumption of low-nutrient, junk foods
- Lack of regular exercise
- Prolonged periods of inactivity
Medical disorders can also increase the risk of coronary artery disease. Risk factors include:
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Chronic kidney disease
Risk factors that can also affect heart health include:
- Family history
- High stress
- Unhealthy diet
- Lack of exercise
Coronary Artery Disease can also occur without any of the aforementioned risk factors. However, scientists have identified other risk factors through research:
- HS- CRP (High-sensitivity C-reactive protein): This protein usually occurs in excessive amounts if there is inflammation somewhere in the body. Moreover, scientists have theorized that high amounts of HS-CRP is the result of narrowed coronary arteries.
- Homocysteine: This is a substance that is used by the body to manufacture protein and build and maintain tissue. However, high levels of this substance may increase the risk of coronary artery disease.
- Sleep Apnea: This is a potentially serious medical disorder where the breathing of the affected individual suddenly stops and starts. This can cause sudden drops in blood oxygen levels. As a result, blood pressure increases and severe strain is placed on the cardiovascular system, which can potentially lead to coronary artery disease.
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