Learn more: heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the US

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States, which is why it’s so important to stay educated about risk factors and preventative measures.

Today, we’re talking about Coronary Artery Disease the most common form of heart disease, with Dr. David Spurlock a cardiothoracic surgeon with Spectrum Health.

>>> Take a look at the video above to learn more!

What is coronary artery disease (CAD)?

CAD occurs when major blood vessels that supply your heart with blood and oxygen become damaged or diseased. Typical cause is plaque buildup or inflammation in your arteries. These include obstruction of blood flow out of the heart, congestive heart failure symptoms, or heart rhythm disorders leading to loss of consciousness or sudden cardiac death.

How do I know if I have CAD? What are the symptoms?

At first you may have no symptoms, until plaque buildup becomes more severe. Then you may feel chest pain (angina) or shortness of breath. If the artery becomes completely blocked, you may experience a heart attack.

What are the causes and risk factors for CAD?

Causes: smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, sedentary lifestyle.

Risk factors: increasing age, gender (men at greater general risk), family history, obesity, high stress.

How is CAD treated?

Lifestyle changes: quitting smoking, eating healthy, exercising regularly, losing weight, reducing stress.

Medication: cholesterol-reducing meds, aspirin, beta blockers or ACE inhibitors to decrease blood pressure, nitroglycerin.

Procedures: angioplasty and stent placement, coronary artery bypass surgery.

What should I do if I’m at risk? How can I learn more?

If you feel you may be at risk for CAD, talk to your doctor about the right options for you to keep you healthy. You can also find out more information about CAD on our website at spectrumhealth.org/heart.