Heart Disease (Coronary Artery Disease)

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Coronary Heart Disease

UW Health's Heart and Vascular Care Preventive Cardiology program in Madison, Wisconsin, focuses on preventing heart and vascular disease and its complications.

What is heart disease?

Heart disease (also known as coronary artery disease or coronary heart disease) is usually caused by a condition called atherosclerosis, which occurs when fatty material and a substance called plaque builds up on the walls of your arteries. This causes them to get narrow.
As the coronary arteries narrow, blood flow to the heart can slow down or stop, causing chest pain (stable angina), shortness of breath, heart attack, and other symptoms.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for men and women. According to the American Heart Association, more than 15 million people have some form of the condition. Men in their 40s have a higher risk of heart disease than women. But, as women get older, their risk increases so that it is almost equal to a man's risk.
Many things increase your risk for heart disease. Bad genes (heredity) can increase your risk. You're more likely to develop the condition if someone in your family has had it -especially if they had it before age 50. Your risk for heart disease goes up the older you get.
The following factors also increase your risk of heart disease:
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High LDL "bad" cholesterol
  • Low HDL "good" cholesterol
  • Menopause
  • Not getting enough physical activity or exercise
  • Obesity
  • Smoking 

Diagnostic Tests