Coronary heart disease (CHD) is caused when the blood vessels or coronary arteries that supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart become narrow because cholesterol accumulates on the artery walls. The cholesterol creates plaques that obstruct the flow of blood to the heart muscle. The main symptoms of CHD are shortness of breath, chest pain and heart attack. It is the most common type of heart disease in the U.S. and accounts for 370,000 deaths every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Whether you are at risk of developing the condition or not, it is always good to know about the possible causes.
The heart is a fist-sized muscle that pumps blood to the lungs, where it is oxygenated and pumped back to the heart. From there, it is pumped through arteries to organs throughout the body. After delivering oxygen to the body, it is pumped through the veins back to the heart. This is called the circulatory system. The coronary arteries are on the surface of the heart and if they become clogged, they seriously reduce the amount of oxygen-rich blood to the heart. This is called atherosclerosis.
The cause of CHD is a blocked artery, but there are many reasons why the artery may be clogged. Some of the possible causes can be controlled through medication and lifestyle changes and some cannot. Some of the main controllable factors are:
• High blood cholesterol
• High blood pressure
• Lack of physical activity
• Poor diet
Some of the factors that cannot be controlled are:
• Medical history
• Family history
The decreased blood flow may not be noticeable at first and not cause any symptoms. However, as the blockage grows, the following symptoms may occur:
• Chest pain that feels like pressure in the chest usually on the left side or in the middle. This is called angina and may be triggered by emotional or physical stress.
• Shortness of breath may occur after physical exertion because the heart is not able to provide enough oxygen-rich blood to the muscles.
• Heart attack happens when the blood is completely blocked to the heart.
When you visit our heart specialist at Cardiac Associates of North Jersey, you may learn more information about the possible causes of coronary heart disease, as well as the available treatment options. Whether you are worried about developing coronary heart disease or not, it is recommended to visit our cardiologist in Oakland and have blood tests to make sure cholesterol and plaque are not accumulating in your coronary arteries. Since there are several preventable causes, you may be able to avoid developing coronary heart disease. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!