Your heart is a powerful muscular organ that continuously pumps 3000 gallons of blood throughout the body. Being a strong muscular pump, it needs a continuous supply of blood for itself to work relentlessly. Coronary arteries supply blood to the heart.

Coronary artery disease Causes

Coronary arteries work efficiently as long as they are healthy – but when they get blocked or clogged due to narrowing of their lumen, or when they get damaged or diseased or when plaque build-up in coronary arteries, then this condition is known as coronary artery disease.

  • Obesity: being overweight or obese
  • Smoking
  • Asian origin
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Excessive cholesterol production in the liver
  • A family history of arterial disease or atherosclerosis
  • Excessive alcohol consumption

Many people don’t even realise that they have coronary artery disease until they get scanning done as a routine health check-up. Many times, CAD gets detected accidentally when you approach a hospital for some other reason and end up being having CAD.

The reason for this is the fact that coronary artery disease often develops progressively over the years. You may come to know about this condition when there is a significant blockage or when symptoms associated with it manifest gradually.

Coronary artery Disease Symptoms

As plaque builds up gradually, coronary arteries narrow and they go on narrowing down further causing decreased blood flow to the heart.

 You may not have any symptoms in the beginning due to decreased blood flow to the heart.

CAD symptoms manifest gradually. When the blood flow to the heart decreases, it may cause shortness of breath, angina (chest pain), weakness and other signs and symptoms of coronary artery disease.

When a coronary artery gets blocked completely, it can cause a heart attack.

 Severe Chest pain: Squeezing chest pain – tightness, pressure or heaviness in the chest. The pain may feel as if some heavy object was sitting on the chest.

The pain may be felt in the middle of the breastbone or on the left side of the chest. The chest pain is referred to as angina.

Some people feel the pain after physical activity. Once the tiring or stressful activity is stopped, the pain goes away on its own. In women, the chest pain can be sharp and may radiate to arm, neck and back.

While doing exercises if you feel severe chest pain, breathlessness, then you should immediately stop exercise and see a specialist at the earliest for a better physical assessment and evaluation.

Weakness: A weak heart causes weakness because it cannot pump enough blood to meet the body’s requirement. A person who has this problem may develop shortness of breath and extreme weakness with little activity.

Heart attack: Coronary artery disease in most of the cases go undetected for years even for decades without causing any symptoms until there is a significant blockage or a heart attack. Typical symptoms of a heart attack include severe, crushing and squeezing chest pain, pain in the arms, neck and shoulders, bursting in sweat, extreme weakness and shortness of breath.

Bottom Line

The signs and symptoms associated with a heart attack in women differ as they may not always experience chest pain. They may experience pain in arms, shoulder and back and also abdominal pain. Some women get heart attack without experiencing any symptoms. Men do also have silent heart attacks. It is better to consult a heart specialist if you have high cholesterol levels, diabetes, high blood pressure or use tobacco, smoke and drink alcohol. Obesity is also one of the leading causes of CAD and heart attacks. Those who fall under the high-risk category, heart disease screening should be taken on top priority.