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Also called coronary heart disease (CHD), ischaemic heart disease, atherosclerotic heart disease, is the accumulation of atheromatous plaques within the walls of the arteries that supply the myocardium (the muscle of the heart) with oxygen and nutrients.
Persons most commonly affected: Men in their 40s have a higher risk of CAD than women. But, as women get older, their risk increases so that it is almost equal to a man's risk.
Organ or part of body involved: Arteries
Symptoms and indications: Symptoms may be very noticeable, but sometimes you can have the disease and not have any symptoms. Chest pain or discomfort (angina) is the most common symptom. There are two main types of chest pain: Atypical chest pain -- often sharp and comes and goes. You can feel it in your left chest, abdomen, back, or arm. It is unrelated to exercise and not relieved by rest or a medicine called nitroglycerin. Atypical chest pain is more common in women and Typical chest pain -- feels heavy or like someone is squeezing you. You feel it under your breast bone (sternum). The pain usually occurs with activity or emotion, and goes away with rest or a medicine called nitroglycerin.
Adults with typical chest pain have a higher risk of CHD than those with atypical chest pain.
Other symptoms include:
Shortness of breath
Heart attack -- in some cases, the first sign of CHD is a heart attack
Causes and risk factors: Many things increase your risk for CAD. Bad genes (heredity) can increase your risk. You're more likely to develop the condition if someone in your family has had it -- especially if they had it before age 50. Your risk for CHD goes up the older you get.
The following factors also increase your risk of CHD: Diabetes; High blood pressure; High LDL "bad" cholesterol; Low HDL "good" cholesterol; Menopause;
Not getting enough physical activity or exercise; Obesity and Smoking.
Higher-than-normal levels of inflammation-related substances may also increase your risk for a heart attack. Such substances include C-reactive protein and fibrinogen. Increased levels of a chemical called homocysteine, an amino acid, are also linked to an increased risk of a heart attack.
Prevention: Avoid or reduce stress as best as you can. Don't smoke. Eat well-balanced meals that are low in fat and cholesterol and include several daily servings of fruits and vegetables. Get regular exercise. If your weight is considered normal, get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day. If you are overweight or obese, experts say you should get 60 to 90 minutes of exercise every day. Keep your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol under control.