The term coronary artery disease refers to an alteration in the coronary arteries of the heart. The alteration can have both an anatomical and a functional nature.
The most common is arteriosclerotic coronary artery disease, but inflammatory processes linked to blood scarcity can also occur. Furthermore, the possible causes can be related to both lifestyle and genetic factors.
The heart has three main arteries:
Sometimes fat and cholesterol accumulate on the inner walls of the arteries, forming the so-called plaques. Blood flow slows and the myocardium stops receiving enough blood. The plaques also cause a stiffening of the arterial walls, known as hardening of the arteries or atherosclerosis. Why this happens?
There are intrinsic risk factors in the individual, such as genetic predisposition, age and gender. However, modifiable factors play an essential role, which can determine the appearance or absence of the disease. Tabagism, hypertension, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle interact with genetic factors and increase the risk of coronary artery disease.
It may take several years for the arteries to clog. Symptoms are often minimal and become relevant only when the disease is advanced, if not fatal. The most common symptoms are chest pain, fatigue, arm and abdominal pain. But there are many others that depend on the physicality and lifestyle of the individual person.
The diagnosis is made by an analysis of the clinical picture and medical findings including: electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, stress test, intravascular ultrasound, coronary angiogram.