That seemingly sudden heart attack? It may have been triggered by underlying coronary heart disease.
Heart attack is a big event, but for some, it might be the first sign of a problem that has been building for quite some time.
Coronary heart disease — also known as coronary artery disease — is the most common type of heart disease in the United States and largely affects Blacks, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Doctors often use the terms coronary heart disease (CHD) and coronary artery disease (CAD) interchangeably, although CHD is really a result of CAD, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).
“Coronary artery disease is preventable,” Dr. Johnny Lee, president of New York Heart Associates, said in a recent story about the condition. “Typical warning signs are chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitations and even fatigue.”
What is coronary heart disease?
The condition happens when blood flow to the heart muscle is limited because of plaque growth caused by waxy cholesterol in the coronary artery walls, according to the AHA.
It affects the large arteries on the surface of the heart, according to the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).
That plaque may narrow the arteries over time. Or a sudden rupture of plaque may lead to blood clot, according to the AHA. That narrowing process, called atherosclerosis, can block some or all blood flow.
It’s so common that 18.2 million Americans have CHD, the leading cause of death in this country, the NHLBI noted.
The latest AHA statistics show that the prevalence of cardiovascular disease was 48.6 percent in adults 20 and older. CVD numbers include those with coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke and hypertension.
What causes coronary heart disease?
Although people may think of heart disease as an issue for seniors, it’s never too early to