Coronary artery disease (CAD), also called heart disease, refers to the narrowing of heart arteries due to atherosclerosis (see below). The heart muscle does not get enough oxygen when heart arteries are narrowed. If the heart is starved of oxygen, chest pain (angina) occurs. If an artery is completely blocked, a heart attack results. A heart attack is medically referred to as a myocardial infarction (MI). CAD is the most common form of heart disease and heart attack is a leading killer of both men and women.
Many of these deaths can be prevented because some risk factors for CAD are controllable. Some of these controllable risk factors include high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and diabetes. There are other controllable risk factors related to lifestyle, such as not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, reducing alcohol consumption, and getting physically active.
Although medical treatments for heart disease have come a long way, controlling risk factors remains the key to preventing illness and death from CAD.