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- What is coronary artery disease?
- What is the purpose of screening tests for CAD?
- What are common initial screening tests for CAD?
- Exercise cardiac stress test (treadmill stress test or ECST)
- Radionuclide stress test
- Stress echocardiography
- Pharmacologic stress test
- Are there other tests for CAD that are noninvasive?
- What is the most accurate method of defining CAD?
- Coronary angiography
Quick GuideHeart Disease Pictures Slideshow: Coronary Artery Disease
What is coronary artery disease?
Coronary artery disease (CAD) is atherosclerosis (plaque in artery walls) of the inner lining of the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart. A similar term, arteriosclerosis which means hardening or stiffening of the arteries is sometimes interchanged with atherosclerosis by some authors. CAD is a common form of heart disease and is a major cause of illness and death. CAD begins when hard cholesterol substances (plaques) are deposited within a coronary artery. The coronary arteries arise from the aorta, which is adjacent to the heart. The plaques narrow the internal diameter of the arteries (Figure1) which may cause a tiny clot to form which can obstruct the flow of blood to the heart muscle (Figure 2). Symptoms of CAD include:
- chest pain (angina pectoris) from inadequate blood flow to the heart;
- heart attack (acute myocardial infarction), from the sudden total blockage of a coronary artery; or
- sudden death, due to a fatal rhythm disturbance.