Coronary heart disease (CHD), also called coronary artery disease (CAD) is leading cause of death and morbidity in men and women worldwide. CAD is caused due to formation of plaque in the arteries that supply the heart with blood. Plaque is made of fatty material, calcium, and scar tissue. The arteries supply the heart muscle (myocardium) with oxygen and other nutrients it needs to pump blood and remain healthy.
What is plaque?
The coronary arteries or the arteries of your heart are very small in size about the size of a strand of noodle. The inside walls of the arteries are smooth at birth which allows the blood to flow without any resistance or problem. But as we grow older plaque gradually builds on the inside surface of the arteries. This restricts the blood flow and blood supply to the heart muscle.
Plaque is made up of:
Plaque buildup starts in your arteries when you were young. But it usually does not cause any problems or effects until later in life. The symptoms start after about 75 percent of your artery gets blocked.
What does the plaque do?
Factors that increase risk of plaque formation
All these factors accelerate the deposit of plaque within the inner lining of your coronary arteries.
Preventing Cholesterol Plaques
Atherosclerosis and cholesterol plaques are preventable if you take precaution. Measures which can slow or prevent buildup of plaque include
Drugs and Lifestyle Changes to Reduce Risk Plaques
Once the plaque is formed it generally does not go away but further buildup of plaque can be slowed down or even stopped. For this you will need lifestyle changes and, probably medication.
Lifestyle changes to prevent plaque formation include:
Drugs that can lower cholesterol levels and there by plaque formation include:
Procedures to Unclog Arteries: If the blockage in your arteries is extensive your doctor may advice procedure to unclog arteries like angiography, angioplasty, and stenting:
Reducing risk factors that promote plaque formation will lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes.