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Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is a disease in which a waxy substance called plaque builds up inside the coronary arteries. These arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to your heart muscle. When plaque builds up in the arteries, the condition is called atherosclerosis. The buildup of plaque occurs over many years.

Over time, plaque can harden or rupture (break open). Hardened plaque narrows the coronary arteries and reduces the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart.

If the plaque ruptures, a blood clot can form on its surface. A large blood clot can mostly or completely block blood flow through a coronary artery. Over time, ruptured plaque also hardens and narrows the coronary arteries.

Other names include "hardening" or "narrowing" of the arteries, and ischemic heart disease.

Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)
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Reference: The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHBLI)

Last updated March 31, 2017