Coronary Artery Disease 

By: CPMC Genetic Counseling Staff
Reviewed by: Dr. Perry J. Weinstock, MD, Cooper University Hospital

Coronary artery disease is caused by a buildup of fatty plaques in the blood vessels. Plaques are clumps of fat, cholesterol and other substances found in the blood. The buildup of plaque in arteries is called atherosclerosis. Vessels, or arteries, supply the heart with blood that is rich in oxygen and is needed in order for the heart to work properly. When plaques build up inside arteries the arteries become narrow, which makes it more difficult for blood to flow to the heart. Plaques that form in blood vessels also increase the risk that blood clots will develop, which can partially or completely block the flow of blood.

The narrowing or blocking of coronary arteries (arteries that lead to the heart) often results in a condition called angina, which is chest pain or discomfort in the chest area. An even more serious outcome of coronary artery disease is the complete block of blood flow to the heart. A heart attack, or myocardial infarction, occurs when blood flow to the heart stops, causing an area of the heart to die.

How Common is Coronary Artery Disease?
Coronary artery disease is the most common type of heart disease. It is the cause of 1 out of every 5 deaths, making it the leading cause of death in the United States.

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Learn more about Coronary Artery Disease, from symptoms to understanding your risk, through the links below.

Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

Learn more about Coronary Artery Disease  [ Learn More › ]

Risk Factors

Both genetic and non-genetic factors play a role in Coronary Artery Disease [ Learn More › ]

Reduce Your Risk

Risk-reducing behaviors for Coronary Artery Disease [ Learn More › ]

The CPMC Study

Learn how the CPMC Study identifies your risk for Coronary Artery Disease [ Learn More › ]

Educational Sessions

Aneducational video series on Coronary Artery Disease [ Learn More › ]