Your coronary arteries bring oxygen-rich blood to your heart muscle. Coronary artery disease (CAD) is when those arteries can’t get enough blood to your heart. CAD happens slowly, so you might not notice any symptoms until it’s serious. CAD can lead to a heart attack.
Over time, plaque (made of cholesterol, fat, and other stuff) builds up on the walls of your heart arteries. That's called atherosclerosis. The plaque, along with swelling, causes your heart arteries to get narrow on the inside. That makes it harder for blood to get to your heart muscle. It can even completely block off the inside of an artery. When that happens, no blood flows through it.
Award-Winning Heart Care
At UVA Health, you'll find a team of experienced and dedicated doctors, surgeons, nurses, and more. They work to ensure you have the most innovative and effective treatment options available for:
In fact, U.S. News & World Report has rated our heart attack and heart bypass surgery care as some of the best in the country. And, our cardiology and vascular teams have received several other awards for their leading-edge care.
Get Your Coronary Artery Disease Treated at UVA Health
We offer advanced treatments and surgeries, including:
A Team Approach to CAD Care
Patients with some of the most complicated forms of CAD need advanced treatment. View transcript.
What Causes CAD?
CAD begins with damage to the inside layer of a coronary artery. Atherosclerosis happens when plaque piles up at the place where your artery is damaged. You also might get a clot where the plaque is building up. The plaque and clots can block the artery, leading to a heart attack.
The damage can happen in many ways, including from:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Diabetes or insulin resistance
- An inactive lifestyle
You're also more likely to get CAD if you're inactive, male, or have:
- A family history of CAD
- High stress
Diagnosis at UVA Health
Chest pain (also called angina) is the most common sign that you have CAD. Angina may be described as a burning, squeezing, or tightness in your chest, neck, or upper arm. It's caused by not enough blood getting to your heart. If it’s not treated, it may lead to a heart attack. That's why it's important to find CAD as soon as possible.
We use advanced tools to diagnose your coronary artery disease. These include using:
- Blood work
- Stress test
- Cardiac catheterization
- Cardiac CT or MRI