Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)


  • The term "heart disease" is an umbrella term for several types of heart conditions
  • The most common type in the U.S. is Coronary Artery disease (CAD)
    • Can lead to heart attack, angina, heart failure and arrhythmias
  • CAD occurs when a substance called plaque builds up in the arteries that supply blood to the heart
    • Coronary arteries are the arteries that supply blood to your heart
    • "Plaque"is made up of cholesterol deposits
    • They accumulate in your arteries which causes narrowing (thinning or blockage) of those arteries over time
      • This process is called "atherosclerosis"
  • Plaque buildup can cause angina which is the most common symptom of CAD
    • It causes chest pain since the heart muscle is not getting enough blood
      • This weakens the heart over time which can lead to heart failure or an irregular heart beat
    • Individuals with CAD may also experience a heart attack first!
      • Heart attacks occur when the artery is completely blocked or if a blood clot breaks off and clots a coronary artery

Signs and Symptoms

  • Chest pain (angina)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart attack


  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Radiation therapy to the chest (cancer)

Risk Factors

  • Age (aging causes narrowing and damage)
  • Sex (men are more likely than women)
  • Family history
  • Smoking (nicotine causes narrowing and carbon monoxide causes damage to inner lining)
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol level s
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Physical  inactivity
  • High stress

Risk Factors







High Blood Pressure


Cigarette Smoking


High Cholesterol


Diabetes                           1o.1


Fun Facts

  • 1n 2006, 631,636 people died of heart disease
    • Heart disease causes 26% of deaths­ more than 1 in every 4 in the U .S.
  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women
    • Half of the deaths in 2006 due to heart disease were women
  •  ln 2005, 445,687 people died from coronary heart disease

Deaths Vary by Ethnicity

Race of Ethnic Group

% of Deaths





African Americans


Asians or Pacific Islanders




American Indians or Alaska Natives



  • Prevention is key through life style changes uch as:
    • Eating a healthier diet (Nutritionist), exercising (Physical Therapist), and not smoking
  • Doctor 's can prescribe medications to help with bad cholesterol, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeats and low blood flow
    • Advanced surgical procedures are available if needed


  • Physical inactivity doubles the person's risk of developing symptomatic CAD
  • Moderate exercise is sufficient to improve blood lipid levels (fat), reduce blood pressure, reduce obesity, lower insulin resistance (helps break down sugars), decreases the prethrombotic state (blood clot formation), and decreases the likelihood of heart attacks
  • Individuals without symptoms should aim for 30 minutes of exercise 3-4x/ week
    • Moderate exercise is equivalent to a brisk walk