Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)

What is coronary artery disease?

Coronary artery disease is one of the most common causes of death in the UK.  It is a condition that causes narrowing of the arteries supplying the heart muscle.  A significant narrowing (normally over 70% of the blood vessel) can cause a limitation in the blood supply leading to angina or myocardial infarction (heart attack).

What are the symptoms of coronary artery disease?

Angina is the symptom produced by a narrowed coronary artery and does not result in damage to the heart muscle.  Myocardial infarction is defined as heart muscle damage caused by a coronary artery narrowing or blockage. Angina or myocardial Infarction most commonly present with chest discomfort but can also cause symptoms such as breathlessness, sweating and sickness. Diabetics in particular are known to present more frequently with nonspecific symptoms.

What are the causes of coronary artery disease?

Known causes of coronary artery disease include hypertension or high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, high cholesterol, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle or a genetic predisposition.

How is coronary artery disease investigated?

If your doctor suspects that you may have angina then you are likely to be referred into hospital for further tests. A myocardial infarction is a medical emergency and requires urgent admission to hospital.

Commonly performed tests to confirm or exclude these conditions initially include an ECG as well as a blood test (Troponin) to detect any damage to the heart muscle. Subsequent tests may include exercise testing, cardiac CT, dobutamine stress echocardiography and coronary angiography.

How is coronary artery disease treated?

Management of coronary artery disease includes lifestyle modifications for example smoking cessation and weight loss as well as medication, commonly Aspirin, beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors and Statins.  It may also involve percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) or coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG).

Related Pages

To read more about this topic search our Blog section (Login or Register)