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Coronary Heart Disease
What is it?
Coronary heart disease (CHD), also called coronary
artery disease, is a condition in which plaque builds up
inside the coronary arteries. These arteries supply
oxygen-rich blood to your heart muscle.
Plaque is made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and
other substances found in the blood. When plaque
builds up in the arteries, the condition is called
atherosclerosis or atheroma. The build-up of plaque
occurs over many years. Over time, plaque hardens
and narrows your coronary arteries. This limits the
flow of oxygen-rich blood to your heart muscle.
Eventually, an area of plaque can rupture (break
open). This causes a blood clot to form on the surface
of the plaque. If the clot becomes large enough, it can
mostly or completely block blood flow through a
How is it Caused?
Your risk of developing atherosclerosis is significantly increased if you:
have high blood pressure
have a high blood cholesterol level
do not take regular exercise
Other risk factors for developing atherosclerosis include:
being obese or overweight
having a family history of CHD: the risk is increased if you have a male relative with CHD
under 55 or a female relative under 65
What can I do to lower my risk of CAD?
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Don't smoke: Nicotine raises your blood pressure because it causes your body to release
adrenaline, which makes your blood vessels constrict and your heart beat faster. If you smoke, ask
your doctor to help you make a plan to quit.
2. Control your blood pressure: If you have high blood pressure, your doctor can suggest ways to
lower it. If you're taking medicine for high blood pressure, be sure to take it just the way your doctor
tells you to.