Coronary artery disease

Narrowing of the coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart, leading to damage or malfunction of the heart. The most common heart disorders due to coronary artery disease are angina pectoris and myocardial infarction (heart attack). The usual cause of narrowing of the arteries is atherosclerosis, in which fatty plaques develop on the artery linings. The vessel can become totally blocked if a blood clot forms or lodges in the narrowed area. Atherosclerosis has many interrelated causes including smoking, a high-fat diet, lack of exercise, being overweight, and raised blood cholesterol levels. Other factors include a genetic predisposition and diseases such as diabetes mellitus and hypertension. The first symptom of coronary artery disease is frequently the chest pain of angina. Treatment is with drugs such as glyceryl trinitrate and other nitrate drugs, beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, potassium channel activators, and vasodilator drugs. If drug treatment fails to relieve the symptoms, or there is extensive narrowing of the coronary arteries, blood flow may be improved by balloon angioplasty or coronary artery bypass surgery.


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