Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary artery disease, also called simply heart disease, is a condition in which the coronary arteries (the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart muscle) become blocked, cutting off blood ﬂow and, therefore, oxygen to the heart mus- cle. This damages the heart, causing it to malfunction. Coronary artery disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women. Nearly
20 percent of men aged 65 to 69 have had a heart attack, and nearly 30 percent of men aged 80 to 84 have had a heart attack. Nearly half of all men who die of coronary artery disease are not aware that they have the disease.
The following risk factors increase your risk of developing heart disease:
• Family history. Your chances of having coronary artery disease are much greater if either of your parents had heart disease before age 65.
• High blood pressure. This condition makes the heart pump harder, increasing the size of the heart muscle and, thereby, the chance of heart failure; it can directly damage coronary arteries.
• Smoking. Smokers have a 70 percent greater chance of developing coronary artery disease than nonsmokers.
• High cholesterol levels. High levels of cholesterol in the bloodstream lead to the formation of fatty deposits in the walls of the coronary arteries, causing them to narrow and obstruct blood ﬂow.
• Obesity. Excess weight puts added strain on the heart, increases the risk of high blood pressure, and leads to higher levels of cholesterol in the blood.
• Inactivity. Regular exercise helps control cholesterol levels and weight. It also helps keep the heart strong and healthy.
• Diabetes. More than 80 percent of people with diabetes die of some form of blood vessel or heart disease.