Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the narrowing or blockage of the coronary arteries, usually caused by atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis (sometimes called ‘hardening’ of the arteries) is the build-up of cholesterol and fatty deposits (called plaques) on the inner walls of the arteries. These plaques can restrict blood flow to the heart muscle by physically clogging the artery or by causing abnormal artery tone and function.
Without an adequate blood supply, the heart becomes deprived of oxygen and the vital nutrients it needs to work properly. This can cause chest pain called angina or breathlessness. If blood supply to a portion of the heart muscle is cut off entirely by the formation of blood clot in the artery, or if the energy demands of the heart become much greater than its blood supply, a heart attack (injury to the heart muscle) may occur.
There is no clear cause of Coronary artery disease (CAD), but the following are established risk factors:
Coronary artery disease (CAD) remains one of the leading causes of death in our society. Within Singapore, death from heart disease (predominantly CAD) is second only to cancer. The best way to deal with CAD is to prevent it. Screening for CAD to identify the presence of disease before the development of symptoms is increasingly important. Individualized lifestyle changes to address risk factors, medications, coronary angioplasty and coronary artery bypass surgery are all effective treatment measures. For those people with known CAD or those who have previously been treated for a heart attack, reducing these same risk factors becomes even more important to improve quality of life and reduce the risk of progression of the disease.