What is Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) and What Are Its Risk Factors?
Coronary Artery Disease, more commonly known as CAD, is a condition caused by a buildup of fatty deposits in the coronary arteries, the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle. The buildup, known as plaque, narrows the arteries and reduces the amount of oxygen-rich blood that can reach the heart muscle, leading to chest pain (angina) or even a heart attack.
Risk factors for CAD include:
- High cholesterol — when the levels of certain types of fats called lipids in your blood are too high.
- High blood pressure — also known as hypertension, this increases the pressure inside arteries, making them more prone to damage.
- Smoking — smoking increases the risk of plaque buildup in the arteries.
- Diabetes — this is a metabolic disorder that causes high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood, which can damage the arteries and make them stiffer.
- Obesity — this increases the risk of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
Lifestyle Changes to Help Prevent Coronary Artery Disease
Making healthy lifestyle changes is one of the best ways to help prevent Coronary Artery Disease. Here are a few changes you can make to reduce your risk of developing heart disease:
- Exercise regularly — physical activity helps lower levels of cholesterol in the blood and lowers your risk of high blood pressure and diabetes, which are all risk factors for CAD.
- Eat a healthy diet — focus on fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Avoid processed foods, saturated and trans fat, and too much salt and sugar.
- Stop smoking — smoking increases your risk of developing CAD, so it’s important to quit. Seek help if necessary.
- Maintain a healthy weight — being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing CAD. Aim for a healthy weight and stay there.
- Drink alcohol in moderation — too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure and increase your risk of developing CAD.
Coronary Artery Disease is a serious condition that can lead to a heart attack or stroke, so it’s important to be aware of the risks and take steps to reduce them. Making healthy lifestyle changes, such as exercising regularly, eating a well-balanced diet, and avoiding smoking, can go a long way towards preventing CAD. Speak to your doctor if you have any concerns or questions about your risk factors for CAD.