Causes of Coronary Artery Disease
Possible causes of myocardial ischemia (heart attack):
- The blockage of a coronary artery from plaque (95-97% of all CAD cases). Blockage prevents sufficient nutrition to the heart that usually causes chronic impairment of heart functioning, which produces stable angina pectoris;
- Blood clot formation leading to heart attack.
The following risk factors play an extremely crucial role in the development of CAD:
- Hypertension – high blood pressure; the artery narrows due to the increase in the elasticity of the arteries;
- Smoking – carbon monoxide from tobacco smoke damages the inner surface of the vessels and increases the risk of atherosclerosis. Moreover, nicotine narrows blood vessels;
- Obesity and associated metabolic disorders (including lipid storage disease);
- Diabetes – both types of diabetes mellitus are associated with the development of CAD, particularly, type II diabetes, which is often caused by obesity;
- Sedentary lifestyle (and overweight caused by such lifestyle) – those who lead a sedentary life has an increased risk of CAD;
- Unhealthy diet – excessive consumption of high calorie foods rich in fats and cholesterol;
- Emotional tension (stress) – mental stress may cause narrowing of the coronary vessels;
- Increased blood cholesterol – leads to the progression of atherosclerosis in which fatty plaques are formed and block vessels;
- Blood electrolyte imbalance - deficiency of potassium and magnesium prevent adequate heart muscle relaxation, which makes it difficult for the heart to get the nutrients and oxygen delivered with blood.
Hypertension, diabetes mellitus, smoking and obesity are the most dangerous CAD risk factors. In addition to the above-listed causes, there are also some noteworthy unmodifiable risk factors:
- Age (over 50-60 years old) – the risk of the arterial wall damage increases with age;
- Sex – males are at a higher risk of developing CAD;
- Family history – cases of CAD in first-generation relatives.
Next chapter: Symptoms of CAD