February 11, 2016
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Heart Attack and Atherosclerosis Prevention (cont.)

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What are coronary heart diseases (CHD)?

Coronary atherosclerosis refers to the hardening and narrowing of the coronary arteries. The coronary arteries supply the blood that carries oxygen and nutrients to the heart muscle. When coronary arteries are narrowed or blocked by atherosclerosis, they cannot deliver an adequate amount of blood to the heart muscle. Disease caused by the lack of blood supply to heart muscle is called coronary heart disease (CHD). Coronary heart diseases include heart attacks, sudden unexpected death, chest pain (angina), abnormal heart rhythms, and heart failure due to weakening of the heart muscle.

What is angina pectoris?

Angina pectoris is chest pain or pressure that occurs when the oxygen supply to the heart muscle cannot keep up with oxygen consumption by the heart muscle. (Oxygen consumption by the heart muscle increases with physical exertion or excitement and decreases with rest and relaxation.) Most commonly, the inadequate supply of oxygen is due to narrowing of the coronary arteries by atherosclerosis. When coronary arteries are narrowed by more than 50% to 70%, the arteries cannot increase the supply of blood to the heart muscle during exertion or other periods of high oxygen demand. An insufficient supply of oxygen to the heart muscle causes chest pain (angina). Chest pain that occurs with exercise or exertion is called exertional angina.

What is a heart attack?

A heart attack (myocardial infarction) is the death of heart muscle due to the sudden and complete blockage of a coronary artery by a blood clot. A coronary artery blockage usually occurs in arteries that contain cholesterol plaques. A plaque can rupture and initiate the formation of a blood clot next to it. A blood clot can completely block blood flow through a coronary artery and deprive the heart muscle of needed nutrients and oxygen. The heart muscle then dies, which produces a heart attack.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/30/2015

Source: MedicineNet.com

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