Coronary heart disease refers to the failure of the system of blood circulation within the heart to supply adequate oxygen and nutrients to cardiac muscle and surrounding tissue. Though there are several causes of coronary heart disease (CHD), it is most closely associated with coronary artery disease (CAD).
CAD relates to the accumulation of plaques, made up of white blood cells (macrophages), cholesterol and fatty acids, calcium and other tissue debris, within the walls of the arteries which can slow or cut off the flow of blood to the heart. Those suffering from CAD often have no symptoms of the disease until it is in an advanced state, at which time shortness of breath and/or rapid onset of fatigue is noticeable, and angina (chest pain) and/or myocardial infarction (heart attack) can occur.
Several factors have been associated with or are believed to affect the development and progression of CAD. These are: