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Coronary Heart Disease Screening Tests (CAD)

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What is coronary heart disease?

Coronary heart disease or coronary artery disease (CAD) is atherosclerosis (plaque in artery walls) of the inner lining of the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart. A similar term, arteriosclerosis which means hardening or stiffening of the arteries is sometimes interchanged with atherosclerosis by some authors. Coronary heart disease is a common form of heart disease and is a major cause of illness and death. Coronary heart disease begins when hard cholesterol substances (plaques) are deposited within a coronary artery. The coronary arteries arise from the aorta, which is adjacent to the heart. The plaques narrow the internal diameter of the arteries (Figure1) which may cause a tiny clot to form which can obstruct the flow of blood to the heart muscle (Figure 2). Symptoms of coronary heart disease include:

  1. chest pain (angina pectoris) from inadequate blood flow to the heart;
  2. heart attack, from the sudden total blockage of a coronary artery; or
  3. sudden death, due to a fatal rhythm disturbance.
Picture of an artery clogged with cholesterol plaque
Picture of an artery clogged with cholesterol plaque
Heart Attack illustration - Coronary Artery Disease Screening Tests
Heart Attack illustration
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/31/2016


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