Advertisement

What is heart disease?

Heart disease is a condition in which the heart cannot efficiently pump blood. Coronary artery disease is one type of heart disease. It occurs when the arteries that nourish the heart muscle narrow or become blocked. This can lead to a heart attack. People with diabetes have a higher risk than the general population for developing heart disease.

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is a disease of the heart's blood vessels that, if untreated, can cause heart attacks.  It stems from coronary artery disease (CAD), also known as ischemia. With CAD, plaque grows in the coronary arteries and eventually limits  the blood flow to the heart, resulting in CHD. Like any muscle, the heart needs a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients that are carried to it by the blood in the coronary arteries. When the coronary arteries become narrowed or clogged and cannot supply enough blood to the heart, the result is coronary heart disease.

Heart disease is a broad term that implies something is wrong with the heart. In most cases, we are talking about coronary artery disease. As cholesterol plaques build up in the arteries that supply the heart muscle, the flow to the muscle is reduced. If a clot forms in this area of narrowing, a heart attack occurs. The resultant area of dead heart muscle is replaced by scar tissue that is not functional. The heart contracts with less force, and a person's exercise capacity may be compromised.

Continue Learning about Heart Disease

Is Coronary Heart Disease on the Decline?
Is Coronary Heart Disease on the Decline?
Are We Doing a Better Job Treating Heart Disease?
Are We Doing a Better Job Treating Heart Disease?
Are Heart Stress Tests Different for Women and Men?
Are Heart Stress Tests Different for Women and Men?
Why Is Managing Cholesterol Levels Good for Heart Health?
Why Is Managing Cholesterol Levels Good for Heart Health?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.