Coronary artery disease develops when the major blood vessels that supply your heart become damaged or diseased. Cholesterol-containing deposits (plaques) in your coronary arteries and inflammation are usually to blame for coronary artery disease.
The coronary arteries supply blood, oxygen and nutrients to your heart. A buildup of plaque can narrow these arteries, decreasing blood flow to your heart. Eventually, the reduced blood flow may cause chest pain (angina), shortness of breath, or other coronary artery disease signs and symptoms. A complete blockage can cause a heart attack.
Because coronary artery disease often develops over decades, you might not notice a problem until you have a significant blockage or a heart attack. But you can take steps to prevent and treat coronary artery disease. A healthy lifestyle can make a big impact.
Coronary Artery Disease Causes
Coronary artery disease is thought to begin with damage or injury to the inner layer of a coronary artery, sometimes as early as childhood. The damage may be caused by various factors, including:
. High blood pressure
. High cholesterol
. Diabetes or insulin resistance
. Not being active (sedentary lifestyle)
Once the inner wall of an artery is damaged, fatty deposits (plaque) made of cholesterol and other cellular waste products tend to collect at the site of injury. This process is called atherosclerosis. If the plaque surface breaks or ruptures, blood cells called platelets clump together at the site to try to repair the artery. This clump can block the artery, leading to a heart attack.
Risk factors for coronary artery disease include:
. Age. Getting older increases your risk of damaged and narrowed arteries.
. Sex. Men are generally at greater risk of coronary artery disease. However, the risk for women increases after menopause.
. Family history. A family history of heart disease is associated with a higher risk of coronary artery disease, especially if a close relative developed heart disease at an early age. Your risk is highest if your father or a brother was diagnosed with heart disease before age 55 or if your mother or a sister developed it before age 65.
. Smoking. People who smoke have a significantly increased risk of heart disease. Breathing in secondhand smoke also increases a person’s risk of coronary artery disease.
. High blood pressure. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can result in hardening and thickening of your arteries, narrowing the channel through which blood can flow.
. High blood cholesterol levels. High levels of cholesterol in your blood can increase the risk of formation of plaque and atherosclerosis. High cholesterol can be caused by a high level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, known as the “bad” cholesterol. A low level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, known as the “good” cholesterol, can also contribute to the development of atherosclerosis.
. Diabetes. Diabetes is associated with an increased risk of coronary artery disease. Type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease share similar risk factors, such as obesity and high blood pressure.
. Overweight or obesity. Excess weight typically worsens other risk factors.
. Physical inactivity. Lack of exercise also is associated with coronary artery disease and some of its risk factors, as well.
. High stress. Unrelieved stress in your life may damage your arteries as well as worsen other risk factors for coronary artery disease.
. Unhealthy diet. Eating too much food that has high amounts of saturated fat, trans fat, salt and sugar can increase your risk of coronary artery disease.
Risk factors often occur together and one may trigger another. For instance, obesity can lead to type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. When grouped together, certain risk factors make you even more likely to develop coronary artery disease. For example, metabolic syndrome — a cluster of conditions that includes high blood pressure; high triglycerides; low HDL, or “good,” cholesterol; high insulin levels and excess body fat around the waist — increases the risk of coronary artery disease.
Sometimes coronary artery disease develops without any classic risk factors. Researchers are studying other possible risk factors, including:
. Sleep apnea. This disorder causes you to repeatedly stop and start breathing while you’re sleeping. Sudden drops in blood oxygen levels that occur during sleep apnea increase blood pressure and strain the cardiovascular system, possibly leading to coronary artery disease.
. High-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP). This protein appears in higher-than-normal amounts when there’s inflammation somewhere in your body. High hs-CRP levels may be a risk factor for heart disease. It’s thought that as coronary arteries narrow, you’ll have more hs-CRP in your blood.
. High triglycerides. This is a type of fat (lipid) in your blood. High levels may raise the risk of coronary artery disease, especially for women.
. Homocysteine. Homocysteine is an amino acid your body uses to make protein and to build and maintain tissue. But high levels of homocysteine may increase your risk of coronary artery disease.
. Preeclampsia. This condition that can develop in women during pregnancy causes high blood pressure and a higher amount of protein in urine. It can lead to a higher risk of heart disease later in life.
. Alcohol use. Heavy alcohol use can lead to heart muscle damage. It can also worsen other risk factors of coronary artery disease.
. Autoimmune diseases. People who have conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus (and other inflammatory conditions) have an increased risk of atherosclerosis.
About Iranian Surgery
Iranian surgery is an online medical tourism platform where you can find the best cardiologists and cardiac surgeons in Iran. The price of coronary artery disease treatment in Iran can vary according to each individual’s case and will be determined by an in-person assessment with the doctor.
For more information about the cost of coronary artery disease treatment in Iran and to schedule an appointment in advance, you can contact Iranian Surgery consultants via WhatsApp number 0098 901 929 0946. This service is completely free.