Coronary artery disease (CAD), the most common type of heart disease, refers to the narrowing of arteries that supply blood to the heart due to a build-up of a sticky substance called plaque. The heart muscle does not get enough oxygen when heart arteries are narrowed. If the heart is starved of oxygen, chest pain (angina) occurs. A piece of the plaque may break off and cause the body to form a clot on the damaged artery, cutting off oxygen to the heart and leading to a heart attack. A heart attack is medically referred to as a myocardial infarction (MI) and is one of the leading killer of both men and women.
Many of these deaths can be prevented because some risk factors for CAD are controllable. These controllable risk factors include high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and diabetes. There are other controllable risk factors related to lifestyle, such as not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet, reducing alcohol consumption, and being physically active.
Although medical treatments for heart disease have come a long way, controlling risk factors remains the key to preventing illness and death from CAD.