What is Coronary Artery Disease?

By: Janet Hunt

Coronary artery disease happens when fatty plaques build up in the coronary arteries. This fatty plaque buildup is called atherosclerosis. When the fatty build-up narrows or blocks the blood flow in the artery, the heart cannot receive oxygen. Lack of oxygen to the heart causes damage or death to that area of the heart resulting in a weak heart which then increases your risk for having a heart attack.

Risk factors for heart disease include those that cannot be controlled and those that can. The risk factors that cannot be controlled are: family history, aging, and male.

Risk factors than can be controlled are:

Sedentary lifestyle: A sedentary lifestyle means you tend to spend most of your time seated and get very little physical activity.
Poor diet: Too much saturated and trans fats, sodium, red meat, and sugar can increase your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar.
Overweight/obesity: A BMI higher than 25 is considered overweight; and a BMI higher than 30 is considered obese. Excess weight causes more stress on the heart and raises blood pressure and cholesterol.
Stress: The exact link between long-term stress and heart disease in unknown, but it can have damaging results.
Smoking: Smoking worsens the other risk factors by decreasing good cholesterol, raising blood pressure, and making it more difficult to exercise.
Lack of exercise: Aerobic exercise makes your heart stronger.
Diabetes: Because diabetes increases your risk of heart disease, you need to keep diabetes under control with diet, exercise, weight control, and medication.
High blood pressure: Uncontrolled high blood pressure can damage your blood vessels increasing the risk of heart disease and heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, and more. Lower sodium intake and exercise can help control your blood pressure.
High cholesterol: Cholesterol comes from your body and from your diet. Too much cholesterol in your blood makes up the fatty plaques that causes heart disease. Decreasing the amount of saturated and trans fats you eat and exercising can help control cholesterol.

Making lifestyle changes to reduce your risk factors can reduce the likelihood of having heard disease. These lifestyle changes include: increasing physical activity, eating heart healthy, managing stress, exercising, and quitting smoking.

For more information about lifestyle changes, contact Janet Hunt at 256-614-3530, an ACE certified Health Coach and ACE certified personal trainer.

By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.