Coronary Artery Disease

Coronary artery disease (CAD), also called coronary heart disease or ischemic heart disease, is the most common type of heart disease in the United States.  CAD is the result of plaque building up on the wall of the arteries that supply blood to the heart.  This buildup can cause the arteries to narrow over time, partially or fully blocking the blood flow (atherosclerosis).

As the arteries narrow, some people may begin to experience chest pain (angina) or shortness of breath while others may have no symptoms at all. A completely blocked artery will cause a heart attack.


Symptoms of heart attack include:

  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Weakness, light-headedness
  • Nausea
  • Pain or discomfort in the arms or shoulder
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Pain in the neck or jaw
Risk Factors

Risk factors for coronary artery disease include:

  • High blood pressure
  • High blood cholesterol levels
  • Diabetes
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Physical inactivity
  • High stress
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Smoking
  • Family history
  • Age (risk increase with age)
  • Sex

Several different tests can be used to diagnose CAD, including:

  • Electrocardiogram
  • Echocardiogram
  • Exercise stress test
  • Chest X-ray
  • Cardiac catherization
  • Coronary angiogram
  • Coronary artery calcium scan
  • CT scan

Treatment for CAD can include:

  • Medications
  • Procedures to restore and improve blood flow (angioplasty and stent placement, coronary artery bypass surgery)
  • Lifestyle changes (including a health diet, regular exercise, weight loss, and reducing stress)

For some, avoiding serious complications, including heart failure, may require stepping away from practice, even with treatment. If you have been diagnosed with coronary artery disease and are thinking that you may need to file a disability insurance claim, please feel free to contact one of our attorneys directly.

These posts are for informative purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for consultation with and diagnosis by a medical professional. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms described above and have yet to consult with a doctor, do not use this resource to self-diagnose. Please contact your doctor immediately and schedule an appointment to be evaluated for your symptoms



National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
American Heart Association
Mayo Clinic


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