Get answers to your heart disease prevention questions.
Coronary artery disease; Arteriosclerotic heart disease; CHD; CAD
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is a narrowing of the small blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart. CHD is also called coronary artery disease.
Click here to see a video about chest pain.
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading cause of death in the United States for men and women.
Coronary heart disease is caused by the buildup of plaque in the arteries to your heart. This may also be called hardening of the arteries.
A risk factor for heart disease is something that increases your chance of getting it. You cannot change some risk factors for heart disease, but others you can change.
The risk factors for heart disease that you CANNOT change are:
Many things increase your risk for heart disease:
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. You feel this pain when the heart is not getting enough blood or oxygen. How bad the pain is varies from person to person.
Women, elderly people, and people with diabetes are more likely to have symptoms other than chest pain, such as:
See: Heart failure for symptoms of heart failure
Many tests help diagnose CHD. Usually, your doctor will order more than one test before making a diagnosis.
Tests may include:
You may be asked to take one or more medicines to treat blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol levels. Follow your doctor's directions closely to help prevent coronary artery disease from getting worse.
Goals for treating these conditions in people who have coronary artery disease:
Treatment depends on your symptoms and how severe the disease is. Your doctor may give you one or more medicines to treat CHD, including:
NEVER ABRUPTLY STOP TAKING ANY OF THESE DRUGS. Always talk to your doctor first. Stopping these drugs suddenly can make your angina worse or cause a heart attack.
Your doctor may refer you to a cardiac rehabilitation program to help improve your heart's fitness.
Procedures and surgeries used to treat CHD include:
LIVE A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
Some of the risks for heart disease that you CAN change are:
Nutrition is important to your heart health, and it will help control some of your heart disease risk factors. See also: Heart disease and diet
Everyone recovers differently. Some people can maintain a healthy life by changing their diet, stopping smoking, and taking medications exactly as the doctor prescribes. Others may need medical procedures such as angioplasty or surgery.
Although everyone is different, early detection of CHD generally results in a better outcome.
If you have any risk factors for CHD, contact your doctor to discuss prevention and possible treatment.
Immediately contact your health care provider, call the local emergency number (such as 911), or go to the emergency room if you have:
Mosca L, Benjamin EJ, Berra K, Bezanson JL, Dolor RJ, Lloyd-Jones DM, et al. Effectiveness-Based Guidelines for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease in Women--2011 Update: a guideline from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2011;123(11);1243-1262.
Gaziano JM, Ridker PM, Libby P. Primary and secondary prevention of coronary heart disease. In: Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, Libby P, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2011: chap 49.
Greenland P, Alpert JS, Beller GA, Benjamin EJ, Budoff MJ, Fayad ZA, et al. 2010 ACCF/AHA guideline for assessment of cardiovascular risk in asymptomatic adults: a report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. Circulation. 2010;122(25)e584-e636.
U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Aspirin for the prevention of cardiovascular disease: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. Ann Intern Med. 2009;150:396-404.
© 2011 University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC). All rights reserved.
UMMC is a member of the University of Maryland Medical System,
22 S. Greene Street, Baltimore, MD 21201. TDD: 1-800-735-2258 or 1.866.408.6885