What is Coronary Artery Disease ?
Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) is the disease of deposition of fat/cholesterol in the blood vessels (arteries) supplying blood to the heart. This leads to a blockage/reduction of blood supply to the heart and it manifests with presentations like angina and heart attack. Angina, which is a feeling of chest discomfort, is a temporary event and occurs whenever the blood supply to heart is inadequate to meet its requirement which may be temporarily increased due to physical or mental stress. That is why angina is typically precipitated or worsened by physical activity and relieved by rest. Heart attack on the other hand is an emergency situation in which there is complete cessation of blood supply to a portion of heart due to sudden occlusion of an artery. Such an event occurs due to sudden clot formation at a place of narrowing/fat deposition in the heart (coronary) artery.
Why are we so much concerned about this disease?
This disease has become the leading cause of death worldwide surpassing cancer. South Asian population including Indians have shown a higher propensity to acquire this disease due to a genetic predisposition and a bad lifestyle. In India alone nearly 15 lakh people die due to this disease every year.
Who all are at risk to get this disease? Can we modify the risk?
These risk factors can also be classified as :
• Non modifiable risk factors : age (older than 55 for men, older than 65 for women) , sex, race, family history of CAD.
• Behavioral risk factors : sedentary life style, unhealthy diet, heavy alcohol or cigarette consumption.
• Physiological risk factors : hypertension, diabetes, lipid disorders, obesity, which may be a consequence of behavioral risk factors.
As the name implies we cannot do much about the non modifiable risk factors, but controlling the behavioral risk factors (which leads to the physiological risk factors) is our choice. That is why coronary artery disease which is also referred to as a LIFE STYLE DISEASE can be considered as a DISEASE OF CHOICE i.e. we can choose to have it or can choose to prevent it by adopting a healthy and safe life style.