Definition of Coronary Disease
by Marissa Willman
Definition of Coronary Disease
Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Heart disease is a broad term that includes a variety of ailments that affect the heart and arteries, including coronary disease. Coronary disease, also known as coronary heart disease and coronary artery disease, affects the arteries and obstructs blood flow to the heart. This disease is treatable but can be fatal if left untreated.
Coronary disease is the most common form of heart disease in the United States and affects the arteries' ability to supply the heart with oxidized blood. It occurs when the arteries fill with plaque, which obstructs the blood's pathway to the heart. The plaque is typically composed of cholesterol and fat but may also include other particles in the bloodstream, such as calcium. This can lead to the heart receiving little or no blood.
Coronary disease commonly causes angina because the heart is not receiving enough oxygen. Angina is general pain, pressure or discomfort in the chest area. Coronary disease may cause tightness in the chest, neck, shoulders or arms. Coronary disease may also cause an irregular or rapid heartbeat. Another symptom of this disease is shortness of breath or difficulty breathing because the heart cannot distribute enough oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. Coronary disease may also cause fluid buildup in the lungs, which obstructs breathing.
Coronary disease is usually treated with a combination of drugs and lifestyle changes. In some cases, surgery may also be necessary. Lifestyle changes for coronary disease treatment include eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight and stopping tobacco use. A physician may recommend a low-dose aspirin regimen to thin the blood or a cholesterol-reducing drug to reduce the amount of plaque-forming materials in the blood. In severe cases, surgery can be used to compress plaque and to insert a stent that keeps the artery clear. Coronary artery bypass surgery is used to create an alternate route for blood to travel to the heart, usually by using another blood vessel from the body.
The chance of developing coronary disease increases with age. Men are also more likely than women to develop the disease. A family history of heart disease also indicates a higher risk factor for coronary disease. Controllable risk factors for coronary disease include smoking, being overweight or obese and not getting enough exercise. People with high blood pressure or diabetes also have an increased risk for developing coronary disease. High stress levels can also contribute to developing coronary disease.
Coronary disease should be properly treated as early as possible, b ecause this disease can lead to more serious complications. The longer one lives with untreated coronary disease, the more damage is done to the heart muscle. The damage resulting from coronary disease can lead to weakening of the heart muscle, heart failure, heart attacks or irregular heartbeats. A weakened heart muscle may not be strong enough to pump blood, which can lead to heart failure.