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Causes of Coronary Heart Disease

Explore the intricate causes of Coronary Heart Disease (CHD), the foremost contributor to global mortality. This comprehensive guide decodes risk factors, from smoking and high blood pressure to genetic predispositions.

  • 12 Jan 2024
  • 2 min read

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading cause of death worldwide. It happens when fatty deposits known as plaque accumulate in the coronary arteries, the blood vessels providing oxygen and nutrients to the heart muscle. This causes the narrowing of these arteries, limiting blood supply to the heart. Understanding the risk factors and causes of coronary heart disease is important for its prevention. Modifiable lifestyle factors and non-modifiable genetic risks both play a role in the development of atherosclerosis, the artery-clogging process underlying most CHD.


What are the Causes of Coronary Heart Disease?

Here are some of the etiology of coronary heart disease:

  • Smoking: Smoking significantly increases the risk of developing CHD. Chemicals in cigarette smoke can damage the lining of the coronary arteries and lead to plaque buildup. Both nicotine and carbon monoxide put a strain on the heart.
  • High blood pressure: Hypertension puts extra strain on the heart and can lead to CHD over time. High pressure damages arteries and is more likely to cause plaque buildup.
  • High cholesterol: Too much cholesterol in the blood contributes to plaque formation in the arteries around the heart. This narrows the arteries and restricts blood flow.
  • High lipoprotein (a): This blood fat, an inherited condition from parents, is a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis, which underlie CHD.
  • Lack of exercise: Inactivity allows fatty deposits to accumulate in arteries more easily. Blocked heart arteries can lead to heart attack or stroke if they affect vessels supplying blood to the brain.
  • Diabetes: High blood sugar thickens artery walls, restricting blood flow. This hampers the blood flow to the heart and significantly raises CHD risk.
  • Obesity: Being overweight or obese places a strain on the heart and is linked to many risk factors like high blood pressure and cholesterol. Losing body fat can dramatically improve these risk factors.
  • Family history: Having close male relatives diagnosed with CHD before 55 or female relatives before 65 raises your risk. Genetics and shared lifestyle habits play a role in CHD development.


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The accumulation of plaque in the coronary arteries leads to coronary heart disease. It is driven by risk factors like smoking, hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol. Understanding and addressing the coronary artery disease causes is crucial for its prevention. Maintaining heart health requires awareness of risks alongside lifestyle changes like a better diet, more exercise, and avoiding smoking.

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