What Is Coronary Artery Disease?
Coronary artery disease (CAD) occurs when fatty deposits accumulate along the innermost layer of the coronary arteries. The process may begin as early as childhood and continue throughout your life span.
This thickening of the artery walls, called atherosclerosis, narrows the arteries and can decrease or block the flow of blood to the heart. Atherosclerosis begins slowly, depositing fat, cholesterol and calcium inside the arteries. These deposits are called plaque. Over time, the plaque can rupture and cause a blood clot to form. With the plaque, this clot can further block the blood and oxygen supply to the heart muscle, leading to CAD.
Affecting nearly 13 million Americans, coronary artery disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States. If you have coronary artery disease that requires coronary angioplasty or bypass surgery, consider that Northwestern Medicine consistently ranks among the top hospitals in the nation for exceptional interventional and surgical outcomes.