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Understanding Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)Coraz³n: Enfermedad arterias coronarias (EAC)

Image Understanding Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)

To understand coronary artery disease (CAD), you need to know how your heart works. Your heart is a muscle that pumps blood throughout your body. To work right, your heart needs a steady supply of oxygen. It gets this oxygen from blood supplied by the coronary arteries.


Healthy Artery
Damaged Artery
Narrowed Artery
Blocked Artery


Healthy Artery. When a coronary artery is healthy and has no blockages, blood flows through easily. Healthy arteries can easily supply the oxygen-rich blood your heart needs.

Damaged Artery. Coronary artery disease begins when damage causes plaque (a fatty substance) to build up within the artery wall. This damage could be caused by things like high blood pressure or smoking. This plaque buildup, called atherosclerosis, begins to narrow the arteries carrying blood to the heart.

Narrowed Artery. As more plaque builds up, your artery has trouble supplying blood to your heart muscle when it needs it most, such as during exercise. You may not feel any symptoms when this happens. Or you may feel angina-pressure, tightness, achiness, or pain in your chest, jaw, neck, back, or arm.

Blocked Artery. Plaque may tear, completely blocking the artery. Or a blood clot may plug the narrowed opening. When this happens, blood flow stops. Without oxygen-rich blood, part of the heart muscle becomes damaged and stops working. You may feel crushing pressure or pain in or around your chest. This is a heart attack (myocardial infarction).

Publication Source: U.S. Nation Institutes of Health. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), Bethesda, MD

Online Source: U.S. Nation Institutes of Health. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), Bethesda, MD

Date Last Reviewed: 2007-01-15T00:00:00-07:00

Date Last Modified: 2005-09-16T00:00:00-06:00

Jay L. Jordan, MD, is an experienced cardiologist and internal medicine physician who provides a comprehensive range of cardiac care services in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Glendale, Burbank, Calabasas and nearby communities. Take the first step in preventing and controlling heart disease with symptoms such as angina, arrhythmias, atrial fibrillation, cardiomyopathy, carotid artery disease, chest pain, congestive heart failure, coronary vascular disease, hypertension, palpitations, shortness of breath and stroke. Call Dr. Jay L. Jordan at 310-854-5493 or request an appointment online.

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