Coronary Artery Disease

Coronary Artery disease is a medical condition that actually is just one manifestation of atherosclerosis, a disease involving the whole body. Coronary artery disease usually develops over years, as plagues containing cholesterol, inflammatory cells, and smooth muscle cells build up in the artery wall, partially blocking blood flow. If the plague destabilizes, it triggers the formation of blood clots (thrombus) on its surface.

The thrombus completes the blockage, leading to heart attack. The process begins when low-density “bad” cholesterol (LDL) penetrates the wall of an artery. If everything goes well, “good cholesterol” (HDL) may reverse the process, bringing cholesterol away from the artery for eventual disposal by the liver. In cases when bad cholesterol accumulates in the artery wall, it can become a target for oxygen free radicals, the high-energy molecules produced by the body’s metabolism.

When free radicals bombard cholesterol, they become oxidized lox-density lipoprotein (LDL), much as they become fat rancid. Oxidized cholesterol leads to the beginning of atherosclerosis and triggers active inflammation in the artery wall that becomes larger, trying to form a hard cap over the inflammatory plague. Enlarged plagues are very dangerous. They narrow coronary arteries, lowering the flood of blood. These types of plagues lead to angina, a developing chest pain where the heart muscle is unable to get the oxygen rich blood it requires. However large plagues usually don’t cause heart attacks.

On the other hand, softer and smaller plagues rupture, damaging the formation of blood clots on the disrupted plague’s surface. The clot finally closes the artery, and kills the heart muscle cells that depend on the artery for oxygen supply. If enough muscle cells are damaged, it may cause heart attacks. Individuals with high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, high/low cholesterol, tobacco exposure, stress, and lack of exercise are at high risk to have coronary artery disease.

You may lower your chances of this disease, cancer, and stroke by changing your lifestyle, including healthy habits and using supplements. Using small dosage of Aspirin may prevent coronary artery disease as well.

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