Your heart gets its oxygen and nutrients through coronary (heart) arteries. The heart has two main coronary arteries; the right coronary artery (RCA) and the left main coronary artery. The left main branches into to arteries: the left anterior descending artery (LAD) and the left circumflex artery (LCx). Heart arteries branch several times to supply all areas of the heart muscle.
Atherosclerosis occurs when the lining of your arteries thicken with plaque deposits this is commonly known as “hardening of the arteries” or coronary heart disease.
Normally, the walls of your hollow, tube-shaped arteries are smooth and elastic. Atherosclerosis of the arteries is caused by plaque and causes narrowing, stiffening and blockages in the artery. Plaque is a build-up of cholesterol, fat, and calcium. Over time plaque narrows your arteries and potentially closes off blood flow to heart muscle causing a heart attack.
When an area of the heart does not get the blood supply it needs, symptoms occur. Do you feel pain, pressure or tightness in your chest after a workout at the gym? Is tiredness keeping you from your activities? Do you get short of breath when walking up stairs? Do the symptoms intensify under emotionally stressful conditions?
Chest discomfort or pain, shortness of breath and increasing fatigue with activities may be signs of reduced blood flow to your heart. These symptoms are called angina and are caused by coronary artery disease (CAD). It is a good time to call and schedule a consultation or visit with a cardiologist. Not all chest discomfort is angina your health care provider can work with you to see what care is needed.