Coronary artery disease develops when the major blood vessels, the coronary arteries, that supply blood to the heart are not able to provide enough blood, oxygen, and nutrients to the muscle. Cholesterol buildup in these arteries most often leads to coronary artery disease (CAD), leading to a lack of blood flow and, eventually, a heart attack.
Coronary artery disease develops slowly and can often go unnoticed for decades until a large enough cholesterol plaque has built up. Signs may only present themselves once the heart is beating rapidly, like during exercise. Symptoms of coronary artery disease to pay attention to include:
Other than high cholesterol, CAD can be caused by:
Coronary artery disease is often diagnosed using some type of test, like an echocardiogram or stress test. Treatment includes medicinal or surgical options, like angioplasty and stent placement or coronary artery bypass graft surgery, when an artery needs to be unblocked.
If you are having a heart attack, which happens when parts of the heart do not receive enough blood flow, you may notice some of the following symptoms:
Heart attack symptoms can happen on and off or continuously over the course of a few minutes or a few hours. Chances are, if you have been experiencing chest pain for several days or weeks, it is not related to a heart attack.
If you see somebody having a heart attack, call 911 immediately. If they are conscious, have them chew and swallow an aspirin, which helps prevent blood clots. If they lose consciousness, administer CPR or follow the instructions on an automated external defibrillator (AED) if one is immediately available.
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