Coronary arteries are the major blood vessels that supply your heart with blood, oxygen, and nutrients. Coronary artery disease (CAD) occurs when these arteries become damaged or diseased. The cause mainly is cholesterol-containing deposits (plaque) on your arteries. Narrowing of the arteries occurs when plaques build up, causing your heart to receive less blood. The decreased blood flow, eventually, may cause chest pain (angina), shortness of breath, or other coronary artery disease signs and symptoms. A heart attack occurs when there is a complete blockage.
CAD can go virtually unnoticed until you have a heart attack because coronary artery disease often develops over decades. It can lead to angina or acute myocardial infarction if left untreated. However, one can actually do a lot to prevent and treat coronary artery disease, starting from committing to a healthy lifestyle. Treatment for coronary artery disease can include medications or surgical and minimally invasive procedures.
In some cases, CAD develops without any classic risk factors. Researchers are studying other possible factors, including: