Coronary Artery disease is the most common form of heart disease and is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Heart disease is caused by narrowing of the coronary arteries that feed the heart. Like any muscle, the heart needs a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients, which are carried to the heart by the blood in the coronary arteries. When the coronary arteries become narrowed or clogged by cholesterol and fat deposits (a process called atherosclerosis) and cannot supply enough blood to the heart, the result is coronary artery disease (CAD). If not enough oxygen-carrying blood reaches the heart, you may experience chest pain called angina. If the blood supply to a portion of the heart is completely cut off by total blockage of a coronary artery, the result is a heart attack. This is usually due to a sudden closure from a blood clot forming on top of a previously narrowed artery.

It is very important to recognize what a heart attack may feel like; here are the basic heart attack warning signs:

Chest discomfort – typically this is the predominate warning sign. Discomfort can be sudden intense pain where there is no doubt, however, most heart attacks begin with mild chest pain and discomfort.

Other symptoms may include;
Uncomfortable pain, pressure, squeezing, or heaviness in the chest
Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, stomach, neck, or jaw - Discomfort can be in other parts of the upper body too
Shortness of breath – Can occur with or without any chest or upper body discomfort
Other signs can include cold sweats, nausea or light headedness

If you, or someone you’re with experiences chest discomfort, especially with one or more of the other signs, contact 911 or get to a hospital immediately. It has been said, “Time is muscle”, heart attacks affect the ability of the heart muscle to function, and the longer the condition lasts the more damage to the heart.

Prevention of coronary artery disease (CAD) includes lifestyle modifications, such as eating a low fat and low cholesterol diet, doing cardiovascular exercise, avoiding smoking, identifying risk factors such as family history of coronary artery disease (CAD), and taking the appropriate medications if necessary.