Coronary heart disease

Coronary heart disease, or coronary artery disease (CAD), is characterized by the buildup of fat deposits and inflammation in the coronary arteries.

These fatty deposits may develop in childhood and progressively enlarge and thicken throughout the lifespan, eventually turning into atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis is the most common cause of coronary heart disease and is a condition characterized by a buildup of plaque that results in a narrowing of the arteries that can decrease or block the blood flow to the heart.

The Coronary Arteries

The left main and right coronary arteries are the main coronary arteries.

Left main coronary artery (LMCA):

Left main coronary artery (LMCA): supplies blood to the left ventricle and left atrium of the left side of the heart. The LMCA divides into branches:

  • The left anterior descending artery: supplies blood to the front, left side of the heart;
  • The circumflex artery: encircles the heart muscle and supplies blood to the back, lateral side of the heart.

Right coronary artery (RCA)

Right coronary artery (RCA): supplies blood to the right atrium, right ventricle, and the sinoatrial (SA) and atrioventricular (AV) nodes, which regulate heart rhythm. The right coronary artery divides into the acute marginal artery and the right posterior descending artery. Other smaller branches of the coronary arteries include the septal perforator (SP), diagonals, and obtuse marginal (OM).

Symptoms

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Symptoms of coronary heart disease will vary depending on the severity of the disease. While some individuals may have no symptoms, some may have episodes of mild to severe chest pain or angina.

Angina is chest pain cause by insufficient oxygenated blood reaching the heart.

When the heart’s blood supply is completely cut off, flow of oxygen and nutrients are reduced to the heart, which can cause a heart attack and lead to death of the muscle of the heart.

When individuals do not realize that they are have a heart attack, it is called a “silentheart attack.

Symptoms of coronary artery disease include

  • Shortness of breath, weakness, fatigue
  • Pain spreading to the arms shoulders, back, neck, or jaw
  • Pain, pressure, tightness
  • Heaviness behind the breastbone.


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