Coronary artery disease (CAD), also referred to as coronary heart disease or just “heart disease,” occurs when the blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood to your heart muscle become narrowed and hardened due to the buildup of fat and cholesterol deposits called plaque. Due to plaque buildup, blood vessels grow narrow and less elastic (a process called atherosclerosis), blood flow is restricted, and your heart can’t get enough blood and oxygen. When this happens, you may feel chest pain (angina) or have a heart attack.
CAD is caused by a disease process not limited to the blood vessels in your heart. This is why people with heart disease may also have peripheral artery disease (PAD), when narrowed arteries restrict blood flow to the legs and feet, or kidney (renal) artery disease, when blocked arteries limit blood flow to the kidneys. They also may be at risk for a stroke.
Despite heart disease being the leading cause of death for men*, women*, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States,1 more and more people with CAD are living long and active lives thanks to remarkable advances in diagnosis and treatment.
million adults age 20 and older have CAD
the approximate number of people in the United States that died from heart disease in 2020—1 in every 5 deaths
the year in which 2 in 10 deaths from CAD happened in adults less than 65 years old
Did you know?
- Deaths from heart disease are higher in African Americans than any other ethnic group.2
- Heart disease develops at a younger age in African Americans.2
- In 2018, American Indians/Alaska Natives were 50% more likely to be diagnosed with coronary heart disease than their white counterparts.3
- In 2014, Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders were 10% more likely to be diagnosed with coronary heart disease than non-Hispanic whites.3
- While Asian adults are overall less likely than other ethnic groups to have heart disease, South Asian men, Filipino men, and Filipino women have a higher risk as compared to white adults.4
*The term “men” in the context of “cardiovascular health” applies to individuals assigned male at birth (AMAB) who have a male biological reproductive system, which includes a penis, scrotum, testes, epididymis, vas deferens, prostate, and seminal vesicles.
*The term “women” in the context of “women’s cardiovascular health” applies to individuals assigned female at birth (AFAB) who have a female biological reproductive system, which includes a vagina, uterus, ovaries, Fallopian tubes, accessory glands, and external genital organs.
Are you at risk?
Learn more about your risk and how to reduce your risk factors.