Causes and Diagnoses

Causes and Diagnoses of Coronary Artery Disease

Risk factors for coronary artery disease are most often lifestyle-related. Controlling these risk factors is key to preventing illness and death from coronary artery disease:

  • Diabetes
  • Diet high in saturated fat
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • High LDL cholesterol, high triglycerides levels and reduced HDL cholesterol
  • Physical inactivity
  • Smoking
  • Obesity

Coronary artery disease may also cause additional problems, including stable angina, acute coronary syndrome and heart failure.

Risk factors that can be controlled or modified include:

  • Cigarette smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood
  • Cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Excess weight
  • Stress
  • Lack of exercise

Risk factors for cardiac and vascular disease that cannot be changed include:

  • Family history
  • Age
  • Gender (male or post-menopausal female)

Catheter placement

Coronary angiography vessel dye injection


If coronary artery disease cuts off the supply of oxygen-rich blood to your heart, the result is a heart attack, and your heart muscle starts to die. If any of these symptoms occur, or if you have a heart attack, your physician will order one or more of these tests to confirm the diagnosis:

Meet the Coronary Artery Disease Teams

Northwestern Medicine Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute is a nationally recognized destination for those who require highly specialized cardiovascular care.